Men’s basketball defeats cross-city rivals, UNH, 73-63
Edgar Ayala – Sports Editor
The basketball clash for the best in New Haven went in favor to Southern Connecticut, as the Owls edged past the University of New Haven 73-63 last Wednesday night.
“Whenever two New Haven city schools meet, you know it’s going to be a tough battle no matter what the records are,” said Scott Burrell, Southern’s head basketball coach. “We played a great defensive first half. We just got a little soft and lazy in the second half – and it hurt us a little bit.”
Senior Austin Carter was red hot in the first half, as the forward had a season-high and game-high 19 points – scoring 17 of his 19 points in the first half.
Carter did not miss a single shot in the first period, as the reigning defensive player of the year went 7-for-7 from the field and 3-of-3 from three-point range.
“I can’t stand New Haven, that’s just how it is between us,” said Carter. “I knew I had to perform big tonight. I wanted to make sure being a captain and leader, to come off starting on the right foot.”
The Owls were up 14 points at halftime shooting 51 percent from the field, and the Chargers did not have a response as UNH shot 11-of-30 (36 percent) from the field in the first frame.
However, the Chargers erased the Owls’ 42-28 lead and opened the second half on a 16-2 run to tie the game at 44. The Chargers and Owls would continue to battle as they tied things up at 55 with 9:16 on the clock.
“We didn’t come out with the same mental toughness in the second half,” said Burrell. “That’s what happened. They made some shots and got confident. Their energy level built up, and it was tough.”
Sophomore, Isaiah McLeod, echoed Coach Burrell’s words on the Owls’ second half performance.
“We talked about that coming out of the locker room,” said McLeod on continuing to play hard after a 14-point lead at halftime. “We need to close this game and go up 30 and put it away, but we came out a little bit slow.”
But it was guys like McLeod who came off the bench and contributed with 11 points, three rebounds and one assist, block and steal in 27 minutes of action. This was his sixth out of seven games that McLeod scored over 10 points.
“Guys came off the bench and gave us a spark of energy,” said Carter. “I know the five people who started were tired. We needed as much energy as we could, in whatever way we could get it.”
And the Owls were able to find that energy in Southern’s all-time scorer Michael Mallory, when he had a fast break dunk with 8:48 left on the clock. After Mallory’s dunk, Southern led for the remainder of the game.
After coming back home to Moore Field House, Mallory was honored prior to the game for breaking the program’s all-time scoring record. However, the best scorer in Southern Connecticut history was held to 14 points on 6-of-18 shooting, after averaging 28.8 points coming into the game.
“He’s been taking great shots and playing great,” said Burrell on Mallory. “Guys had to step up today because he didn’t have a big scoring night. I think the other guys showed they can play too.”
With the win against UNH, Southern edges closer to surpassing their cross-city rivals, as UNH lead the all-time series 43-40.
The Owls played on Sunday against the undefeated (9-0) No. 1 team in the Southwest Division of the Northeast-10 Conference – College of Saint Rose.
That undefeated streak was broken by Southern in a 68-66 win on Jerry Luckett Jr.’s game-winning basket. That win improved the Owls to 6-2 overall and 4-0 in the conference.
Southern’s men’s basketball team sees action next against Pace University in a road game on Dec. 7.
Photo Credit: Palmer Piana – Photo Editor