By Miguel Gonzalez
The Lions were off to a good start after defeating the John Jay College Bloodhounds, 75-58, in their home opener on Tuesday, Nov. 15. The team followed with a 79-68 win against the State University of New York (SUNY) Geneseo Knights, before conceding a 68-74 loss to Pennsylvania State University-Harrisburg on Sunday, Nov. 20.
The team then proceeded to demolish the Rutgers University-Camden Raptors, 106-66, at Packer Hall on Tuesday, Nov. 22, giving them a 3-1 record.
Spectators and students filled the gym in anticipation for the Lions first game against the Bloodhounds.
The home crowd not only witnessed a 75-58 victory, but saw the team for what it is: an offensive juggernaut.
Both squads were equal in the first half as the Lions and the Bloodhounds committed turnovers on one another.
Senior forward Bobby Brackett scored the team’s first points of the season with a thunderous two-handed dunk. The Bloodhounds responded by scoring 10 points on a series of layups and three-pointers.
By the 14th minute, the Lions caught up with the Bloodhounds and scored eight consecutive points, uninterrupted.
The Lions spent the rest of half defending their lead, while Bloodhounds head coach Ryan Hyland attempted to slow down the clock by issuing three substitutes.
In the second half, the Lions ran away with their lead as the team relied on rebounds, layups and jumpers to deliver the victory. Senior transfer Corey Stanford sputtered as he dished out 20 points. With defensive coverage from junior guard Erick Murdock Jr. and Brackett, Stanford was able to easily execute layups. At the same time, Murdock Jr. and Brackett acted as a one-two punch on breakaways and turnovers.
“Corey is a great player and an unbelievable addition to our team,” said Brackett. “We are a very lucky program to have a guy like Corey join us this year and he will be a huge part of our team the entire season. He’s gelled with the team right away and his play has shown it so far.”
Afterwards, the Lions headed to Middletown, Pa., to compete in the Penn-State Harrisburg tip-off tournament.
In the first match, the Lions trampled the SUNY Geneseo Knights, 79-68, as Stanford recorded a double-double of 24 points and 12 rebounds.
The Lions stayed ahead of the Knights during the first half. Stanford and Murdock Jr. opened a 7-0 start before Knights senior guard Jack Eisenberg scored a two-point jumper.
Nevertheless, the Lions offense kept accumulating points off a couple of jumpers and layups by Brackett and Stanford. The Knights sole threat was senior guard John Decker who provided 27 points for the Knights.
The Lions ultimately finished the first half with a comfortable 36-27 lead. Both the Lions and Knights remained equal in the second until the Lions slowly pulled ahead.
Decker helped the Knights catch up to the Lions on a pair of free throws and three pointers. With the Lions lead cut to 41-37, Brackett utilized his strong body frame to lounge for two jumpers. In the midst, junior forward Elias Bermudez and Stanford were clutch on the free-throw line both making their free throws.
In the end, the Knights could not hinder the Lions as they won, 79-68 to advance to the tournament finals.
In the finals against Penn State-Harrisburg, the Lions offense froze as the Nittany Lions defeated them, 74-68. Brackett’s 22 point performance was not enough to counter the Nittany Lions stiff defense.
“For some reason we came out slow and played poorly on both sides of the floor,” Brackett said. “We didn’t run our offense well, and we couldn’t stop them from scoring in the first half. It was good to see that we responded in a positive way and made a run in the second half to cut the deficit to one.”
Coming home from the loss, the Lions obliterated their first conference opponent, Rutgers University-Camden, 106-66, on Tuesday, Nov. 22.
The Lions initially overwhelmed the Raptors with a 15-5 lead. It was an overall team effort as Brackett, Stanford and Murdock Jr. and sophomore forward Jordan Glover reached to the double-digit column. Additionally, freshman forward Ryan Jensen and freshman guard Tommy Egan were able to contribute off the bench, scoring six points.
The Lions travel to Galloway, N.J., on Wednesday, Nov. 30, for another conference matchup against the Stockton University Ospreys. On Saturday, Dec. 3, the Lions return to Packer Hall to compete against the Kean University Cougars at 3 p.m.