Owls claim home court for playoffs
Matt Gad—Sports Writer
The Owls (17-11, 12-8) came into Saturday’s match-up against Pace (15-12, 9-10) needing a win to give them the number four seed in the Southwest Division for the NE10 Tournament. A win would secure the Owls a home playoff matchup Friday night as the postseason kicks off, and that is exactly what they came out and did.
Sophomore guard C.J. Seaforth, fresh off a 30 point performance at Adelphi on Feb. 23, opened the scoring for the Owls by knocking down a wide-open three-pointer on the second possession of the contest and finishing with 16 points and eight rebounds while seniors Isaiah McLeod, Luke Beesley, Joey Wallace and Kealan Ives celebrated Senior Night by combining for 47 of the team’s 77 points in a 77-61 victory.
“It is the last regular season game, but you know you are playing for a playoff spot,” coach Scott Burrell said. “I want more for them then just to win this last regular-season game. I want them to win the last game in the conference championship and for them to make the NCAA Tournament, so it is important for them to get a win, but I want their last game to be a smile instead of a frown.”
McLeod, who scored 27 points and also came away with five rebounds on 10-16 shooting, is now 40 points shy of tying Tylon Smith for ninth on the all-time program scoring list at 1,761. With his current total of 1,721 with the Owls, he was also able to surpass the 1,700-point plateau, one of less than a dozen who have been able to accomplish that in school history.
“My teammates were giving me great screens and doing whatever they could to find me and I just knocked the shots down. Last game it was a little slump for me so coach told me to just become more aggressive.”
In the game against Adelphi on Feb. 20, McLeod was matched possession-forpossession by the Panthers, so Seaforth really stepped up into an impactful position in double-figures and scored 30 points to try carry the team as best he could. Kealan Ives and Joey Wallace also scored in double figures.
In Saturday’s win over Pace it was also a well-balanced performance from a number of the guys on the team.
“Everyone showed up,” Seaforth said. “A lot of bench players stepped up and did their job and we came out with the win.”
The team picked up 14 off the bench, in part to the contributions of junior forward Isaac Grant, a transfer from Queens College, junior forward Taurus Adams II and freshmen guards Michael Mozzicato and Mekhi Warren.
“Individuals have gotten better because some of these guys have had to take other people’s minutes. Guys have been hurt; we have not been healthy all year but everyone has gotten better and we just have to keep our competitive level high in every game,” Burrell said. “We have to be flying every game and then we will be okay.”
Photo Credit: William Aliou