The playoffs are still a possibility for the College’s men’s basketball team, but it’s looking incredibly bleak as they dropped another two games this past week, losing to Rutgers-Camden University by a score of 76-63, and also to Rutgers-Newark University, 72-58.
The Lions (5-17, 3-12) were scorched on the defensive end as the Raptors went off, shooting 54 percent from the field. Two big runs, 11-0 and 11-1, fueled Rutgers-Camden into a hot start in the first half, leading 39-21 at the intermission. The College played better in the second half, but the Raptors simply would not be denied. The closest the Lions got was a 13-point deficit.
Rebounding has been an issue this year for the team, but they did a much better job in this contest, only being outrebounded 37-36. Junior forward Alex Fox was the main man on the glass, notching 17 points and nine rebounds. Junior guard Matt Rista scored nine points and pulled in five boards, while sophomore guard Ryan Keegan chipped in with 11 points and hit both of his three-point attempts.
Again, the College did a good job of rebounding the ball in their tilt with Rutgers-Newark, being outrebounded only 36-28. However, the Scarlet Raiders secured five offensive rebounds early on that set the tone for the game and helped them gain a 21-12 lead. The Lions rode some hot shooting to cut the deficit to 28-22, but a three-pointer at the end of the half by Christian Garcia gave Rutgers-Newark a 31-22 halftime cushion.
The defense of the Scarlet Raiders was too much in the second half, evident by the College hitting only one three-point field goal, and the Lions could not catch up.
Sophomore guard Jayson Johnson had another big game, dropping 19 points. Fox chipped in with nine points, while Keegan and junior forward Skyelar Ettin each had eight.
“I told myself before the game that I wanted to make a statement in the game,
which led to my mindset of doing whatever I can to help the team win,” Johnson said. “I had some good looks and took advantage of them.”
What was encouraging to see was freshman forward Mitch Miller having a solid game with five points and seven rebounds, three of them on the offensive glass. With the season winding down, expect Miller to get more playing time and game experience.
Needing to win the final three games of the season as well as get some help, the Lions will continue to push toward that quest on Wednesday, Feb. 6 at 8 p.m. at Rowan University.
“Moving forward, we have to use our experience to become a better team in crunch time,” head coach Kelly Williams said. “(We can do this) by constantly reinforcing to our players how important each possession is and focusing on the little things like rebounding and not missing defensive assignments throughout out the game.”