By Miguel Gonzalez
After starting the season with seven wins and three losses, the Lions carried their winning momentum into January and accumulated a five-game winning streak.
Despite winning 13 games this season, the Lions are not the hottest team in the New Jersey Athletic Conference.
On Jan. 7, the Lions visited the 19th nationally ranked, unbeaten Ramapo College Roadrunners. Both teams unloaded their offenses as the Roadrunners defeated the Lions, 98-90.
“Ramapo is a very good and balanced team,” senior forward Bobby Brackett said. “They have a lot of good pieces, and they play very well together, so they’re a tough matchup for any team.”
In less than five minutes, the Lions leaped toward a 14-7 lead. Sophomore forward Jordan Glover further stretched the lead with a three-point long shot. After a brief timeout, Roadrunner junior forward Nick Stanek scored two consecutive jumpers. By the 13th minute, the Roadrunners caught up the Lions and were tied at 16.
The Lions immediately counterattacked with a seven-point run. Sophomore guard Kevin Bloodgood halted the Roadrunners offense by snatching a steal and blocking a rebound. Meanwhile, senior forward Bobby Brackett led the Lions offensive charge with two jumper shots.
However, the Roadrunners reversed the tide and secured a 41-35 lead at the end of the first half.
The Lions could not stop the Roadrunner offense in the second half. In the 21th minute, junior forward Christopher Moseley swiped the ball and unleashed a dunk.
Three minutes later, Glover slammed a dunk of his own with an assist by junior guard Eric Murdock Jr. Momentarily, Roadrunner freshman guard Patrick Peterson pushed the Lions deficit, 60-51, by scoring twice on jumper shots.
The Roadrunners began to run away and demonstrated their offensive capability when Moseley threw down another dunk in the 7th minute. As the second half approached its halfway point, the Lions woke up. Junior forward Elias Bermudez led the rally by scoring pairs of jumper shots and free throws.
Despite the offensive surge, Moseley kept extending the Roadrunner’s lead, swishing in two consecutive jumper shots. Senior guard Eric Klacik prevented a blowout from occurring by hurling in two three-point shots in the 16th minute. The Lions spent the remainder of match attempting to catch up to the Roadrunners like Wile E. Coyote. Nevertheless, the Lions were defeated by the unbeaten Roadrunners, 98-90.
The loss would mark the beginning of the Lions current five-game winning streak.
The Lions crushed the Fairleigh Dickinson University-Florham Devils, 87-65, on Jan. 9 at Packer Hall. The match was highlighted by
Brackett’s outstanding performance, scoring 25 points and swooping in 10 rebounds.
The Lions then spent the rest of the week defeating conference opponents Rutgers University-Newark, 64-57, and Montclair State University, 82-74.
“We’re playing well right now for sure,” Brackett said. “In this conference, if we aren’t ready mentally, we can lose by a lot to any team.”
The Lions tough mentality carried their next two road wins at Rutgers University-Camden and Kean University.
On Jan. 18, the Lions defeated Rutgers University-Camden, 73-64. Brackett reached a milestone in the 10th minute when he received a pass from Bermudez and scored his 1,000th career point on his signature jumper shot. He now joins the ranks of 22 Lions in the College’s men’s basketball program who scored 1,000 points or more.
The Lions won their fifth straight game on Saturday, Jan. 21, defeating the Kean University Cougars, 70-63.
With students returning to campus this week, the Lions hope to showcase their winning momentum when the Stockton University Ospreys fly over to Packer Hall on Wednesday, Jan. 25, at 6 p.m.
On Saturday, Jan. 28, the Lions look to avenge their earlier 54-52 loss to the conference leaders, the New Jersey University Gothic Knights, when they invade Packer Hall at 1 p.m.
“We know we can still play better as a team and that will improve with every practice and every game we play,” Brackett said. “We hope to hit our peak once the playoffs begin and I think we’re in a good spot right now.