Heartbreaker for Owls
Matt Gad – Sports Writer
With only four regular season games left, Southern came into Saturday hoping to improve on their recent winning ways, but Saint Rose came to play. A see-saw affair, the Golden Knights were able to secure their 21st win of the season, and their 13th in-conference, by a final margin of 72-70.
“We came out sluggish,” senior forward Austin Carter said of Saint Rose, who grabbed a 10-0 advantage early. “We kept preaching defense in the huddle and we grinded into a tough comeback … we were right there.”
And they were. The Owls smoothed up after Saint Rose’s 10 unanswered points, cutting the lead to 10-3. Sophomore Joey Wallace, who started this game for Scott Burrell, was responsible for Southern’s first bucket.
Wallace finished with just five points, turning the ball over four times. Despite establishing some early momentum from deep, number 22 went just 1-2 on the day from the three-point arc.
“They put themselves in the driver’s seat,” Burrell said. “We just have three games left – we gotta win all three, bottom line.”
Southern, who host the conference tournament beginning Feb. 26, will look to reset themselves down the stretch. After playing the University of New Haven at their gym Wednesday they travel to Syracuse, N.Y. to take on the likes of Le Moyne College Feb. 18.
The Owls, who put up just 70 in the loss, will continue to look for scoring from senior captain Michael Mallory, who provided 20 Saturday, and Isaiah McLeod, who shot an overall 6-14 and chimed in with 19 points of his own.
“I feel like once we got into the second half we were right there,” said Carter. “We just let up on defense too many times and we ended up losing.”
His team outscored Saint Rose 37-33 after the intermission, having headed into the locker room down 39-33. The Golden Knights held a 12-point lead for a 1:24 second stretch in that first half, and as the game went on Southern could only amount for a two point lead at the 17:25 mark of the second half.
“We didn’t play hard enough and we didn’t play well enough to win. They competed for 40 minutes and we didn’t do that,” Burrell said. “We gotta play with energy, we gotta play with passion and we gotta compete.”
Dropping to 12-6 in the conference, Southern will look to put their results from last year’s NE-10 meet, and their upset loss in the first round of the Division II NCAA tournament, fully behind them.
In the conference tournament, which was hosted at Moore Field House, the Owls fell to Southern New Hampshire 107-104. In the NCAA tournament they started out playing in Philadelphia, on the campus of Holy Family University, and they were shocked by Saint Thomas Aquinas, 92-90.
Carter, who was on the floor 31 minutes Saturday, knows the task at hand for the rest of the regular-season campaign: “go 3-0.”
“This game right here was the first but since we lost it we definitely gotta go 3-0. We gotta get our position better for the conference tournament and just for the region to improve in the rankings,” he said.
Photo Courtesy: SCSU Athletic Communications