They could have done things the easy way or the hard way.
But after the men’s basketball team dropped an 83-77 decision to the previously winless Rutgers-Camden Scarlet Raptors, the Lions found themselves in a must-win situation Saturday at home against fellow playoff contender Rowan University.
Junior guard Jay Frank tallied 23 points and 10 rebounds for his first career double-double, junior forward Aaron Syvertsen added 11 and the Lions stopped a six-game losing streak and clinched a New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) playoff spot with a decisive 62-47 victory over the Profs in Packer Hall Saturday afternoon.
As of press time, the Lions are tied with the Kean University Cougars for second place in the NJAC Southern Division. Both stand at 5-7 in the conference, and they meet on the final day of the season. The College has a one-game lead on Rowan, and owns the head-to-head tiebreaker between the two squads, ensuring the Lions at least the third and final playoff spot.
The Lions defense was stifling on Saturday, holding Rowan to just 19 first half points on 29 percent shooting. On the offensive continued from page 32
side of the ball, Frank and senior guard Jeff Molinelli picked apart the Profs 3-2 zone defense, dishing and driving the lanes to create scoring opportunities. Each of the guards hit a three to close the first half, extending the lead to 12.
The Profs caused trouble in the second half, rattling off an 8-0 run while holding the Lions scoreless through the opening six minutes of the period. But with the Lions lead wittled down to 31-27, Frank netted a three from the top of the arc. Molinelli followed up with a trey of his own, and on the next possession, the senior drove the lane for a layup and drew contact. Molinelli completed the conventional three-point play and the Lion lead rose back to 12.
“At half time we talked about trying to jump out on them and trying to move that lead from 12 to 20. Unfortunately we went into a drought. We just kind of got on our heels and things weren’t just falling into place,” Williams said. “It was great that Jay was able to knock down that shot and get things going.”
Rowan’s senior center Tim Cook had 11 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Profs, but it wasn’t enough. Rowan faced Rutgers-Camden Tuesday night, but they still need Kean to lose tonight when they visit the College to have any chance at landing a playoff spot.
Before their all-important win over Rowan, the Lions suffered an embarrassing setback when Rutgers-Camden earned their first conference win of the season, besting the Lions 83-77 on Feb. 10. Scarlet Raptors senior guard Bill Banks poured in a career high 26 points to lead five Scarlet Raptors players in double figures. In a game of runs, the Lions surged back from an early 12-point deficit several times throughout the contest, but the visitors could not get closer than four. Scarlet Raptors junior forward Tarik Hanton (16), freshman guard Joe Bush (13), junior guard Rory Thornton (11) and senior Josh Askew (10) were all in double figures.
Lions’ sophomore Chris Snyder exploded off the bench for a career-high 20 points and Frank drained 11, but they were the only Lions in double figures and unable to keep pace with Banks’ onslaught.
The Lions host Kean tonight at 8 p.m. in Packer Hall. Both teams stand at 5-7 in the conference. The winner claims the second spot in the NJAC South and a home playoff game.
“The players understand how successful we’ve been at home,” Williams said. “The players understand what’s at stake so I know they will respond and stay focused.”