Andrew Anastasio – Sports Writer –
The Owls Men’s basketball team (5-3, 3-3 NE-10) split their games last week with a 76-52 victory over Le Moyne University on Tuesday Dec. 4, and a 72-67 loss to cross-town rival, University of New Haven on Saturday Dec. 8.
“This was a great win,” head coach Mike Donnelly said after the win against Le Moyne. “I was happy with the way we played, and I can’t remember the last time we won by that kind of margin, so that’s always a good thing and a step in the right direction. The biggest thing was responding to the difficult loss to AIC, and the guys responded to the challenge. We really went hard in practice to prepare for this game. Even though it is still early in the year, it was a big win, and these guys did a fantastic job of responding.”
Senior forward Trevon Hamlet echoed Donnelly’s sentiment.
“We had two good practices before coming into this game,” Hamlet said. “That loss to AIC hurt a lot, and we wanted to come back strong.”
The Owls offense jumped out to an early 21-12 lead at the 10-minute mark, led led by Hamlet, who made four first half three-point field goals in Tuesday’s game against Le Moyne. From there, Southern proceeded to shoot 60% from the field, which translated into a 46-31-halftime lead.
“I think this was the best performance we had so far this season,” senior guard Rashamell Vereen said. “We’re usually a first half team, and we proved that tonight.”
At the start of the second half, the Owls were held scoreless until Hamlet’s baseline jump shot ended the dry spell with 18 minutes remaining. Despite only shooting 35.5% from the field in the second half, the Dolphins were unable to slow down an Owls offense that stretched the deficit to 28 points (76-48), their largest lead of the night.
In the final two minutes of regulation, the Owls managed to hold off the Dolphins to earn their first win at home this season.
Despite it being early, Donnelly said the win was huge, and got his team back on track.
“You need to look at the separation we were able to do tonight with this win,” Donnelly said. “Now we are a win ahead of them in the standings, but we have to go play them at their place in February which will be a different game. Knowing we still have to do that, it was practically a must win game for us tonight at home.”
Hamlet led the Owls in scoring with 21 points on the night, while sophomore Luke Houston put forth a season high 20-point performance. Junior Greg Langston and freshman Stefon Williams, combined for 26 points.
“We played good,” Hamlet said. “Everybody played together, hit shots, and we defended well. Le Moyne is one of the best three point shooting teams in the conference, and we were able to defend them well the whole game.”
In Saturday’s game against UNH, freshman guard Deshawn Murphy led the Owls with 15 points. Despite taking a 35-31 lead into halftime, the Owls were unable to maintain the lead after a Jeremy Williams three-pointer put the Chargers ahead 47-46, a lead they would not relinquish.
The Owls managed to cut the deficit to three (53-50) in the final three minutes, but were unable to regain the lead. The loss puts Southern in sixth place in the Northeast-10 standings.