By Ann Brunn
The men’s basketball team picked up three more New Jersey Athletic Conference wins this past week, bringing their NJAC record to 8-3 and overall record to 11-7.
On Jan. 20, the men bested Kean University by a score of 89-68 at home in Packer Hall. Contributions from sophomore forward Danny Bodine, senior guard Ryan Jensen, junior forward Travis Jocelyn and sophomore guard Sterling White gave the Lions an 11-point cushion headed into halftime.
Kean pulled themselves to be within five points at 45-40, but the Lions ripped off an 18-6 run ignited by a pair of free throws from senior guard Randy Walko. Senior guard Tommy Egan and junior guard PJ Ringel joined in on the action, along with Jensen, Bodine and Jocelyn, who helped give the Lions a 63-46 advantage. They continued their dominance for the rest of the game and secured the victory.
Jensen posted a double-double with 23 points and 11 rebounds while also dishing out five assists, grabbing four steals and blocking two shots. He also unlocked a milestone in his basketball tenure at the College as he notched his 500th rebound.
Jocelyn also had 23 points being 5-of-7 from behind the arc while tallying seven boards. Walko picked up 12 points with Bodine, scoring nine off the bench. Ringel accumulated a career-high 10 assists on the afternoon.
The men then traveled to Stockton University on Wednesday, Jan. 22, squeaking out a crucial 82-78 conference victory. The Lions found themselves down early, 21-10, before they rallied off a 14-0 run, started by a three-pointer from Jocelyn and followed by key baskets from Walko, Ringel, Jensen and Egan. They took a 44-38 lead into the break.
With 8:46 to play in the second half, Stockton had built themselves a five-point lead, 65-60, and when the Lions went on another run, scoring 12 points, they took a 73-69 edge. From the 4:33 mark to the 1:44 mark the game was scoreless, with the Lions holding on to a four-point lead.
Crucial baskets down the stretch from Jensen and Walko kept Stockton at bay and solidified the first-place upset.
Walko tied his career-high of 34 points shooting 11-of-17 overall, 3-of-6 from three and 9-of-11 from the charity stripe. Jocelyn and Jensen both notched double-doubles, with Jocelyn going for 19 points and 12 rebounds and Jensen collecting 12 points and 11 boards. Ringel again proved to be a factor with good ball movement, with had seven assists and grabbing six rebounds.
The Lions secured their third win the span of five days, defeating Rutgers-Newark 74-46 in Packer Hall on Saturday, Jan. 25.
The first half was a back-and-forth battle with neither team able to establish a significant lead, as Rutgers-Newark took a one-point lead, 28-27, into the half.
The second half was the complete opposite of the first, as the Lions opened with a 13-0 run, thanks to Jocelyn and Walko connecting behind the arc for three. The Lions maintained control for the rest of the game, outscoring Rutgers Newark 47-18 in the second half.
Jocelyn led the charge with a career-high 25 points, shooting an efficient 10-of-14 from the field going 4-of-6 from three. Walko followed with another high-scoring performance, totaling 23 points on 8-of-16 from the floor and 3-of-5 from behind the arc. Ringel tallied eight rebounds to complement his five assists and six points. As a team, the men shot an electric 13-of-25 from the three-point land.
The Lions are looking for their fifth straight win as they head to Rowan University on Wednesday, Jan. 29, for an 8 p.m. tip. They are back in action at Packer Hall on Saturday, Feb. 1, where they will face Montclair State University at 3 p.m.