Owls start hot but fall late to UNH in loss
Hunter Lyle – Sports Writer
In a game that came down to the final seconds, the men’s basketball team was unable to capitalize on multiple late game opportunities, eventually falling to University of New Haven, 82-85.
After beating Caldwell University on Sunday, the Owls, who are now 2-5, came into the game desperate to win their NE-10 rival match against the now 5-0 Chargers, who have a closely split history of 44 wins and 42 losses when facing UNH.
The Owls started the game hot, seemingly to energize both the Owls as well as the fans in the packed Moore Field House. The tandem senior guard pair of Kealan Ives and Isaiah McLeod, in his first game returning from an ankle injury, helped the Owls jump out to a 28-17 lead with just under 11 minutes left in the half.
“I was anxious to get back. I just felt like I was away from my team for a long time,” said McLeod. “It was just a great feeling to come back and play with them out in this game.”
After sinking his first shot, McLeod was given the green light, and he took advantage of the opportunity. He ended the first half with 19 points, shooting 66.6 percent from the field (8-12) and 60 percent from three (3-5).
While Southern played lockdown defense, causing UNH to turn the ball over six times, and crashed the boards, senior Luke Beesley grabbing seven rebounds in the first ten minutes, excessive foul trouble let the Chargers back into the game.
The closely fought opening half ended with Southern barely ahead, 45-42.
Coming out of the break, the Chargers came out looking to comeback, and the Owls looking for some way to hang on. Several unforced turnovers from the Owls, matched with a 13-9 run by the Chargers, left the Owls a one-point lead with nine minutes left in the game.
“We didn’t execute, offensively or defensively late in the second half. Well we didn’t execute at all defensively,” said head coach Scott Burrell. “We didn’t stick to our principles on defense, and they got easy layups. [Elijah] Bailey was hot and we didn’t do anything to stop him.”
As the two teams battled it out for the remaining minutes, and the lead changing five times, UNH found themselves with a three-point lead, and the ball, with 20 seconds left.
Southern was able to force a turnover and get the ball back, but during their last effort to get the win, an unforced in-bounds turnover landed the ball in the Chargers hands and sealed the Owl’s fate.
“Down by three, we needed a shot, we needed a three,” said sophomore guard C.J. Seaforth. “It just didn’t go our way.”
With the Owl’s scheduled to play Aldephi University on Saturday, McLeod said the team needs to get back to work as soon as possible.
“It starts tomorrow in practice. We’ve got to build off of it, do what we did well for Aldephi, and what we did wrong, just fix it, change it, and don’t let it happen again,” said McLeod. “No more mistakes, that’s all it is.”
Photo Credit: Southernctowls.com