It was another cold and treacherous week for the men’s basketball team, as the Lions had their first game of the week postponed due to the weather and suffered another setback in the one game they did play.
The College’s (7-14, 5-9) game against Rutgers-Camden University was delayed after the icy conditions this past Wednesday, Feb. 5, made it unsafe for the visiting team to make the trip.
The Lions did manage to make their way to Rutgers-New Brunswick on Saturday, Feb. 8, when they fell 87-53 to the NJAC-leading Scarlet Raiders.
A tough loss continued the Lions’ slide and exemplified their recent struggles in keeping their opponents off the scoreboard.
“We had a tough stretch of games playing all the top teams in our conference over the last two weeks,” head coach Kelly Williams said. “We are still struggling on the defensive side of the ball, which is really making us press offensively. If we can regroup over the next week and find a way to get some easy buckets off turnovers and second chance points, we will regain our defensive focus and energy.”
There isn’t much to say about a game in which the College never led and shot just 26.7 percent from the field and 57.6 percent from the free throw line. Junior guard Jayson Johnson led the team in scoring with 18 points, the only Lion to reach double digits in any statistical category. Junior forward Skyelar Ettin and sophomore forward Bobby Brackett were next on the scoring chart with six points apiece.
“Last night was a tough game for everyone,” forward Joe Kane said. “As a team, we need to make a better effort on the defensive end and focus on winning each possession, one play at a time.” Perhaps a telling statistic from the game was the College’s lack of assists — the team managed only four dimes while turning the ball over 13 times, which are not the best numbers for a team built on foundations of communication and ball movement.
Despite the loss, the Lions find themselves only a half game back from making the NJAC playoffs with four to play, with each of those games coming against an NJAC opponent.
“I am excited that we are still in the playoff run and we control our own destiny,” Williams said. “We have four games left and three are at home. I am hoping we can take advantage of playing (at) home and get back to the basics of defending, rebounding and making some shots.”
Those four remaining games will also be against an opponent bested by the College in the first meeting of the season, and three come against teams right above the Lions in the standings.
“These next few games are going to be a testament to all the hard work we put into this season,” Kane said. “It’s make or break time if we want to make a playoff run, and I’m confident we can make it happen.”
The College played their rescheduled game against Rutgers-Camden University this Monday, Feb. 10, and will take to the Packer Hall court this Wednesday, Feb. 12, at 8 p.m. against Rowan University, with their final away game of the year coming this Saturday, Feb. 16, against New Jersey City University. All these game times are, of course, dependent on the weather.
Perhaps when the snow stops falling, the Lions will rise.
“Yes, we are going through some adversity right now,” Williams said. “But I believe this experience that we have to go through to make us a stronger team this year and in the future.”