The College’s men’s basketball team dropped its final game of the season, 72-69 after giving up a 20-point first-half lead to Rowan University.
“I just think that we weren’t able to match their energy in the second half,” head coach Kelly Williams said. “They began to get more confident, and we weren’t as sure with what we were doing. And the other side of it, which is really one of our Achilles’ heels is that we went probably a stretch or two where we weren’t making any shots.”
Sophomore guard Donovan Smalls and junior guard Al Matlock led the Lions in scoring for the night, with Smalls leading with 21 and Matlock with 17.
Senior forward Steve Siracusa’s sendoff was unfortunately a losing effort, but he did collect a stat line of seven points, 12 rebounds and three assists.
“We lost a warrior (in Siracusa),” Williams said. “A person that truly is one of the few guys who made a commitment all year round.”
Siracusa was a force for the team this season, leading the team in rebounding by far at nine rebounds per game and was second in scoring with 10.2 points per game.
“I try to help the team any way I can,” Siracusa said. “I was undersized, but my mindset was just to get every rebound and outwork the other person. Pretty much just help the team however I can.”
The team went into the half up 42-22 against Rowan but then steadily lost the lead to the Professors as they came back and took the lead within the two-minute mark.
The Lions had a chance to tie the game with a three-pointer at the end of regulation, but Rowan’s defense combined with a pair of suspect no-foul calls in the final minute kept the team from being able to get a shot off.
“From a coaching point of view, with us having the lead and things to that extent, I always tell our players that you don’t want to put it in the referee’s hands,” Williams said. “If we do what we need to do early, then that doesn’t happen. Obviously, in many cases refs aren’t going to make the questionable call at the end.”
The team struggled with their ball movement in the second half after being more efficient in the first half, which helped contribute to the loss.
“It was just a product of Rowan’s energy,” Williams said. “I think their energy picked up, and we just weren’t able to match it, and it affected our entire play.”
The team is now looking forward to the coming season, where they can look to keep improving their play while also trying to fill the void left by Siracusa’s departure.
“I mean, basically what we take out of this season is just character, we had a losing season and a season where we weren’t doing that well,” Smalls said. “We just basically stay together as a team and stick together and keep playing because we love the game and try to get better.”