The men’s basketball team split the final two games of their Winter Break schedule, rallying to bury rival Rowan University 70-65 on the road before running out of gas down the stretch against Rutgers University-Newark 79-74, Saturday afternoon.
The 1-1 road trip leaves the Lions with a 6-8 overall record, and a 2-3 New Jersey Athletic Conference mark.
Junior forward Aaron Syversten and junior guard Jay Frank tallied 51 of the Lions 70 points against Rowan, with Syversten drilling nine of 12 three-pointers and Frank shooting a perfect six of six from the charity stripe.
After a back-and-forth first half, the Lions tied things up right after halftime on a Frank three-pointer. But the Profs scored 12 unanswered points to go up 48-36. Led by senior guard Dan Reddan and junior forward Tim Cook, Rowan held the Lions off as the game approached the four-minute mark, leading 61-52.
Syversten, who scored all his points from beyond the arc, responded by nailing four straight three-pointers, capping off a one-man 12-2 run that put the Lions up 64-63.
Reddan put the Profs ahead for a brief second with a lay-up, but Lion forward Stephen Siracusa returned the favor to put the Lions in command by a score of 66-65. Forced to foul with less than 20 seconds remaining the Profs sent Frank to the line twice, and the calm guard made four consecutive attempts to put the game away.
The loss drops the Profs to 1-4 in-conference, and 8-9 overall.
Despite another solid performance from Frank on Saturday (21 points, three assists and three steals), it was the Scarlet Raiders’ junior forward Deshawn Singleton who commanded the spotlight, literally barreling through the Lion defense en route to a 79-74 victory.
Singleton scored 13 of his game-high 26 points inside the paint, slashing and driving past the College’s big men, taking control of a topsy-turvy contest that featured 10 lead changes. The Scarlet Raiders held a 33-30 halftime lead, and ripped off an 8-2 run to start the second half, putting the home squad up 41-32.
But a three-pointer by senior guard Jeff Molinelli woke the Lions offense up. Frank followed that with another three, and then went coast to coast twice, stripping the Raider guards for a pair of fast break lay-ups that put the Lions ahead 42-41.
The game would remain tight until the final two minutes when Singleton out maneuvered two Lion defenders to snatch a rebound and put the Scarlet Raiders up for good, 69-68. Raiders senior guard Dan Cherry converted on a three-point play moments later to seal the deal.
The win put the Scarlet Raiders at 4-1 in the NJAC and 11-6 overall.
The Lions first test of the new semester comes tonight when Rutgers University-Camden visits Packer Hall at 8 p.m. A Lion win puts them back at the .500 mark in the NJAC.
The Lions’ upcoming NJAC schedule has them pitted against in-conference foes seven times over the course of the next month. The play of big scorers Syversten and Frank will be instumental in determining how the College finishes the season.