The College’s men’s basketball team ended winter break with a big loss on Saturday, losing 63-49 to William Paterson University, while being held to less than 50 points for only the second time all season.
“William Paterson is one of the best defensive teams in the country and they did a great job of contesting every shot that we attempted,” head coach Kelly Williams said.
The Pioneers dominated the College, holding them to a paltry 33 percent from the field.
“I think our inability to score efficiently was due to the fact that we were unable to penetrate the gaps and make the extra pass to open perimeter players,” sophomore guard Donovan Smalls said.
The team had a rough winter break overall, losing all five of its games and having its game against Richard Stockton College postponed.
“We are all very close on the team, and we are trying to stay positive and continue to work hard,” sophomore forward Brian Kelly said. “Even though we have been struggling, we still have a shot to make the playoffs.”
The team did have a spark before winter break, winning two straight games against Delaware Valley College and Drew University.
“Throughout the two game win streak, we shot the ball pretty well and we made timely shots,” Williams said. “Our defensive effort and energy was great, and we are able to do the little things better than our opponents.”
One of the main obstacles that the Lions have had to overcome this year is their youth.
With only one senior on the team, forward Steve Siracusa, the team has been trying to learn to play more cohesively as the season progresses.
“The losses were very tough,” Smalls said. “However I do think that because we have such a young team with only one senior, the losses will only strengthen us going forward.”
“I think the key to getting back on track is for our team to realize that we must depend on each other and play as a cohesive unit,” Smalls said. “I think that the confidence and chemistry that the core players had in each other (during the two game win streak) enabled us to believe we could win.”
The team is now looking forward to starting the spring semester and Kelly believes that the Lions need to focus on the little things.
“In the new semester, we need to start to do the little things better,” Kelly said. “We play hard every game, but we need to start to execute better. We need to be more consistent on the defensive end, make open shots and foul shots, and win the rebounding battle.”
The Lions’ next game is Jan. 22. at Montclair State University.