On Saturday night, Jan. 23, the men’s basketball team showed New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) rival Montclair State that it’s players are more than capable of bouncing back from a disspointing loss.
After a disappointing 61-54 defeat at the hands of the NJAC Southern Division cellar-dwelling Kean University on Wednesday night Jan. 20, where the Lions were out-rebounded 41-26 and devastated by the 17 offensive boards they relinquished, the Lions welcomed Montclair State, currently resting at the bottom of the North rankings, to their home court and trounced their opponent handily by a score of 96-70.
Lions’ senior captain Jay Frank, who leads the team in scoring for the season, bested his 16.3 points-per-game average in the first half alone.
Frank’s 17-point first half performance put the Lions up 38-33 after 20 minutes. Frank would put up a total of 24 points for the game to lead all scorers.
Frank also fronted the Lions defensive attack with three steals in a first half marked by 10 Red Hawk turnovers. His sticky fingers earned Frank another trio of thefts in the second half of the game for a career-high six steals.
The Lions began the second half by rattling off a 12-0 run to open a 50-33 lead and would stay ahead by at least 14 points throughout the remainder of contest.
Aaron Syvertsen and William Jett also had impressive second halves.
“The play of our seniors has been so important this season,” head coach Kelly Williams said. “When they’re on the court they’re scoring points and helping us get the wins. When they’re off the court they’re taking on leadership roles with our younger players and making them better.”
Syvertsen knocked down three of four shots from the three-point line and led all scorers in the second half with 14 points. Syvertsen would finish with 16 for the game.
Jett came off the bench early in the second half and dropped nine points as well as four rebounds. Added to his five first half boards Jett would finish with totals of nine rebounds, a career high, as well as nine points and four assists, both season highs.
Junior forward Steven Siracusa posted a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Sophomore guard Albert Matlock collected nine points as did freshman guard Brandon Johnson, a career high for Johnson.
The Lions are 7-1 in their last eight games and continue play on Wednesday at home against conference opponent Richard Stockton University.
“We’re going to have to take care of home court as the season winds down,” Williams said. “We have three or four games left at home this season and if we can keep winning here we should be in a strong spot for the playoffs.”