Men’s basketball team defeated at NCAA Sweet 16 against Southern New Hampshire
Bobby Martinez – Sports Writer
It was a season that had its ups, and had its downs for the Owls men’s basketball team who saw their season come to an end after losing in the NCAA D-II Sweet 16 to Southern New Hampshire [Penmen], 75-58.
Prior to their matchup against the Penmen, the Owls claimed redemption against American International College [Yellow Jackets], who defeated the Owls two times during the season and also captured the Northeast-10 Conference Title. It seemed as if the win over the Yellow Jackets was enough momentum they needed heading into their matchup against the Penmen seeing that the Owls already defeated the Penmen in the regular season.
But the Penmen came to play on both sides of the ball. The Owls started the game hot and controlled the first five minutes of the game. But the Penmen shook off their nerves and started to control the Owls by playing half-court basketball, a style the Owls are not comfortable playing in.
Video Credit: Southern Connecticut Owls
The Penmen did a good job in containing Owls Tylon Smith who scored just four points on 1-2 shooting in the first half. Owls Luke Houston was the only bright side for the Owls in the first half where he scored nine of his 13 points in the first half. Of those 13 points, Houston scored eight of those points from the free throw line.
The Owls faced a scare in the first half, as Smith dove out of bounds trying to save the ball, but landed awkwardly on his leg and had to sit out a couple of plays. As the half continued, Smith looked as if he was playing cautiously with that leg and scoring just four points proved it.
As for the Penmen, they headed into the half with a 33-29 lead.
The second half was where things were bad for the Owls. Shots were not falling for the Owls throughout the second half, but their defense was good enough to fight through their scoring drought. But as time progressed, the Penmen started scoring in bunches led by Elijah Bonsignore, and BJ Cardarelli, who were just two of five players who scored in double figures for the Penmen.
Both teams didn’t shoot particularly well from both three-point range and field goad territory. The Owls finished the game 4-24 from three-point territory, and 19-61 from field goal range. The Penmen shot 7-22 from three-point territory and 21-60 from field goal territory.
With their career on the line, both Smith and Houston couldn’t rally the Owls to a run they so desperately needed to try and reach the Elite 8 for the second straight year. Owls sophomore Michael Mallory struggled against the Penmen scoring just 13 points on 5-19 shooting.
With this loss, what’s next for Owls head coach Michael Donnelly and his team? It will be a transition he will have to adapt to by not having Houston and Smith next season. But with players like Mallory, Desmond Williams, Stefon Williams, Deshawn Murphy and Austin Carter, the Owls might still be in the running to compete at a very high level.
The Owls finished the season with a record of 24-8, 16-4 in the NE-10 Conference. Looking at next year’s team, the Owls will have four seniors in Desmond, Stefon, Murphy and Jack McCarthy, something that might help push the Owls over the hump next year possibly win another NE-10 title.