Southern Owls beat UNH Chargers 61-46
SCSU Owl Luke Houston dribbles the ball around a UNH player during Wednesday’s game against the rival school.
Aaron Johnson – Sports Editor
A big smile came across Southern Connecticut men’s basketball head coach Mike Donnelly’s face when asked about junior forward Deshawn Murphy following the Owls’ 61-46 win over crosstown rivals University of New Haven.
“Before the game Murph was walking up and down the hallway saying this was the best he’s felt in six years,” said Donnelly.
So it was not much of a surprise for Donnelly when the sharpshooting Murphy got off to a red hot start. The junior from Hamden, Conn. opened up shooting lights out from behind the arc, finishing with 14 points on 3-of-6 from three, in the first half to go along with six rebounds.
“I’ve been rehabbing my leg,” said Murphy. “Really figuring out what’s been going on with my right leg has really helped me and it’s allowed me to utilize my full athletic potential.”
Murphy, who finished the game with 16 points and nine rebounds, said he had been playing with a hurt leg for most of his career since he was in high school and being able to find out what was wrong was the key to his breakout performance.
“About a month ago I figured out that I had been hurt for a few years,” he said. “From football injuries, knee problems, and back things. So from here on out I’m just gonna continue to get healthier.”
Murphy was about to not only shoot well for the Owls, who improved to 16-5 (11-3 NE-10), but he was also able to play strong defense on Chargers bigman Eric Anderson. He said he relished the opportunity to defend against UNH’s top offensive threat.
“I took it as a challenge,” Murphy said. “He’s bigger than me but I don’t think he can score on me. When I was on him I said he wasn’t gonna score no more and I meant that. It’s a little personal pride. I’m 7-feet in my heart.”
Anderson was able to lead the Chargers with 20 points and 10 rebounds, but none of his shots were easy. Donnelly said he was happy with the team’s defensive effort holding the Chargers to just 46 points.
“I was proud because it certainly wasn’t our best offensive game,” he said. “But we found a way to defend and we really executed our defensive game plan.”
The Owls defense held UNH to just 33 percent shooting and forced 14 total turnovers. Senior guard Tylon Smith lead the way for Southern finishing with 19 points, nine rebounds, and three assists. The win was Southern’s fifth straight in the rivalry between the two schools and second this season. Donnelly said it is always great to be able to take care of business against the Chargers.
“It feels really good,” he said. “New Haven is a great program. Ted [Hotaling] does a great job with the guys. We knew it was gonna be a battle no matter who they had on the floor. But I’m proud because it is our rival at the end of the day and we want to win these games.”
Junior forward Stefon Williams, who finished with seven points and five rebounds, said being able to beat UNH in a rivalry game like this was something that was important to him and the rest of the team.
“It feels great,” he said. “Especially after my freshman year they swept us. So to win five in a row after that feels good.”
The win puts the Owls one game ahead of American International College in the NE-10 Southwest Division. Donnelly said it is important to have the team continue to battle for position in the conference.
“We’re fighting for positioning in our standings,” he said. “And we’re getting a set closer to reaching our goal which is to host a home playoff game.”
Photo Credit: Derek Torrellas