Lions come close, fall to Raptors in the end

Sophomore guard Donovan Smalls prepares to go up for a layup. (Tom O’Dell / Photo Editor)

The College’s men’s basketball team dropped two games this past week, including a 60-59 heartbreaker against Rutgers University-Camden on Saturday, Feb 5.

The team had an eight-point lead with under two minutes to play, but surrendered nine straight points and the game to the Red Raptors in the final minutes.

“(It was) a tough loss on Saturday,” head coach Kelly Williams said. “The next step for our young team is to finish games. We have to learn how to complete games, and as we mature and find ourselves in close games in the near future, we will find ways to win those games.”

The team lost their 11th straight game and their fifth by five points or less in that span. However, even with all of the tough losses, the team has managed to stay positive.

“Our players believe that we can go down to Rowan (on Monday) and win, and we understand that we must stay focused the entire game and make some shots,” Williams said. “I thought we did some nice things offensively and defensively against Camden. I want us to build on the positive effort that we put forth and continue to battle like we did on Saturday.”

Even in the loss, sophomore guard Donovan Smalls led the team with 14 points, while junior guard Albert Matlock had 13 points and three steals.

Junior forward Dan Bucher had a breakout game with 10 points and eight rebounds on the night.

Part of the struggles for the Lions has been the fact that they are fighting against injuries to their inside players, which has led to a lack of depth against some of the bigger teams in the NJAC. Sophomore forward Brian Kelly will be out for the remainder of the season with a broken nose, and forward Jason Chalmers is also out for the season with a concussion.

“We have been depleted by injuries up front,” Williams said. “Brian and Jason were really starting to play with some confidence before their injuries.”

After the loss against Rutgers-Camden the team looked to come out strong against Rowan University with a focus on breaking Rowan’s zone and throwing in ome different defensive looks.

“We have to handle Rowan’s zone defenses, make some shots and stay aggressive offensively,” Williams said. “Defensively we have to mix things up, so they are not so comfortable. We have to do a great job rebounding as well.”

The Lions defense was not able to get the best of the Professors though as the they fell 73-58 on Monday, Feb. 7.

The loss brings the Lions losing streak to 12 straight games and leaves them at 3-19 on the season.

The Lions will try to snap their losing streak today against Richard Stockton College.