By Miguel Gonzalez
The Lions extended their winning streak to seven games this week, defeating Stockton University, 77-71 on Wednesday, Jan. 25, and New Jersey City University, 75-69 on Saturday, Jan. 28.
Being at home, the Lions won two conference matches to propel themselves into second place in the New Jersey Athletic Conference.
The Lions began the week with win against the Ospreys led by senior guard Eric Klacik’s 31 point performance.
The team started slow. Sophomore forward Jordan Glover missed a layup and a three point shot until Klacik drained a three pointer in the 18th minute.
Klacik followed up with another three pointer with an assist by junior guard Eric Murdock Jr. After Klacik’s short burst, both teams endured constant fouls, turnovers and substitutions.
Three minutes later, the Ospreys caught a fastbreak as sophomore guard/forward Brandon Hamilton charged into the hoop for a layup.The Lions quickly countered. Senior forward Corey Stanford collected a rebound and shoveled a pass to Murdock Jr.
Murdock Jr.’s shot missed and Klacik repossessed the ball at the arc. Another three pointer for Klacik.
“Eric was unbelievable for us,” Brackett said. “He’s one of the best shooters in the conference and it showed that night. It’s a lot of fun to watch.”
Afterwards, Murdock Jr held the Lions offense together with a layup and a three point shot. However, the Ospreys began to attack more. Ospreys’ freshman forward Steve Ferebee took advantage of senior forward Bobby Brackett’s physical play, getting fouled and making in two free throws. Meanwhile, the Ospreys duo of junior forward Marcus Harmon and junior forward Darius Jerkins caused turnovers.
By the end of first half, the Lions were leading, 36-32. The Lions offense woke furiously in the second half. Brackett completed a layup followed by Stanford throwing in a long three-point shot.
Both teams were competitive at the 15th minute, with the Lions only leading by a point, 44-43. After being fouled by Ospreys junior forward Blake Rossell, junior forward Elias Bermudez dished in two free throws. A minute later Klacik struck again, completing two consecutive three-pointers.
With five minutes remaining, the Lions and Ospreys were locked into a tie at 64. Brackett then proceeded to catch fire, pooling in two jump shots, two layups and a free throw. Murdock Jr. sealed in the 77-71 victory with two consecutive free throws.
On Saturday, Jan. 28, the Gothic Knights voyaged to Packer Hall for a crucial conference match. The Lions and Gothic Knights were dueling for second place in the NJAC.
Brackett wasted no time after the tip over and scored a layup.The Gothic Knights immediately countered when senior point guard Ata Robinson threw a distant three pointer. Momentarily, Brackett continued the joust against the Gothic Knights, scoring back-to-back free throws and hauling in a layup.
In the 15th minute, sophomore guard Kevin Bloodgood and Murdock Jr. joined in on the crusade. Both scored layups and increased the Lions lead, 15-10.
Afterwards, Gothic Knights’ graduate student forward Chinwe Wosu and sophomore point guard Shaquan Worthy fueled a comeback. Wosu dished in two free throws and a layup. The Lions and Gothic Knights then spent the remaining four minutes of half missing shots. At the beginning of the second half, both teams were locked on a tie at 32. The Gothic Knights struck first when freshman point guard Sam Toney leaped in a jump shot and a layup. The Lions quickly caught up when Klacik bounced in a layup and free throw.
With the second half dwindling down, Gothic Knights sophomore guard Joseph Kelley swapped out the ball from Murdock Jr and unleashed a dunk. The Lions and Gothic Knights were tied at 67 with less than three minutes left. Murdock Jr. raced against the clock and pulled the Lions ahead to a 75-69 win, scoring three free throws and scoring a three pointer.
“NJCU is a very tough team and lost by 2 the first time we played,” said Brackett. “This time, it was a pretty simplistic game. It was close for most of the game and it could’ve gone either way. We were happen to finish the game out a little stronger than them and we were able to pull it out at the end.”
On Wednesday, Feb. 1, the Lions travel south to Glassboro, N.J., for a match against Rowan University, and on Saturday, Feb. 4, the Lions await their home matchup against the Ramapo College Roadrunners at 3 p.m.