Despite a tough week for the College, the men’s basketball team played its heart out. The Lions first dropped a home loss against Rowan University, 93-84, on Wednesday, Jan. 31. Later on Saturday, Feb. 3, the team endured a 64-60 loss to Ramapo College in Mahwah, New Jersey.
The game began with Rowan playing great offense and holding an 8-2 lead with only three minutes in to the first half. The problem was that the Lions weren’t getting buckets.
Rowan continued scoring midway through the first half while also countering the College’s fast paced transition offensive team.
With seven minutes left in the first half, Rowan kept heating up. The Lions couldn’t get their momentum going, with Rowan blowing away their chances of cutting the 28-18 deficit.
Before going in to the half, sophomore guard Tommy Egan cut Rowan’s lead to 49-39 off a three-pointer. The College was only down by seven points. In the first half, the College was five for 19 from the three point line while Rowan went five for 11.
The Lions had a total of 20 rebounds, but the effort didn’t help them in their offensive transition.
When the second half was underway, sophomore guard Randall Walko came out thriving inside the paint and destroying the boards. Walko scored eight points in the last four minutes of the game. Even though the Lions were sloppy at times, they would not ever give up their ability in transition.
At the same time, senior guard Eric Murdock Jr. tried to maneuver his way through defenders to get the offense going. With 10 minutes left in the game, Rowan was up, 68-60.
The Lions then worked hard to cut their deficit to only one point at 76-75. Carpenter got fouled with three minutes to go and was able to make two free throws.
As the clock ticked to one minute, the Lions were not quitting while down 86-84.
Murdock was completely dominating the lane in the paint and got fouled once. With only seconds remaining, Rowan clinched their victory with a few buckets. The Lions ultimately lost, 93-88.
Head Coach Matthew Goldsmith believes the team’s slow start was too much to recover from.
“We came out slow and unfocused and sometimes the only thing that wakes you up is a big deficit,” Goldsmith said. “We responded once we were down 17 but it was too little, too late.”
On the road, Ramapo College also proved to be another challenging conference opponent for the Lions.
“Ramapo is always challenging and even more so when they are at home,” Goldsmith said. “They are physical and athletic. I think they wore us down with their depth throughout the game. Road games are always difficult in the NJAC and Saturday was another example of that.”
The team will play its last two home matches of the regular season this week. On Wednesday, Feb. 7, the Lions will compete against William Paterson University in Packer Hall starting at 8 p.m. Later on Saturday, Feb. 10, the team is scheduled to play against Montclair State University at 3 p.m.
With only three conference games remaining, the Lions will make a late-season push for the New Jersey Athletic Conference’s top seed. The team is currently in third place and trail only behind New Jersey City University and Ramapo College.
Despite a tough week, Goldsmith believes the Lions will finish the regular season strong.
“This team has a great collective character,” Goldsmith said. “I fully expect them to bounce back and be ready for our next three opponents. The only thing we can do is focus on improving today. If we can get better each day and take advantage of each practice and each game, we will be ready to perform on the court.”