Men’s basketball opens at home with blowout win
Hunter O. Lyle — Sports Editor
In the team’s first game at Moore Field House this season, the men’s basketball team dominated Concordia College, winning 110-77 in a game that saw stand-out performances from some of the team’s new faces.
Before the team’s home opener, the Owls played four games away from home, splitting the difference and finding themselves with a 2-2 record. Guard Lyron Bennett, a true-freshman, said the energy and atmosphere at home is completely different than road games, and that can make a huge difference.
“It feels amazing [to be home.] It’s good to have our family out here and our home crowd out here supporting us,” said Bennett, “because on the road, it’s just their crowd against us and all we got is each other.”
The game started off with the teams playing two different styles of basketball. Concordia chose to be a high-volume shooting team, shooting early and often from deep. However, while the Clippers shot the ball frequently, they were not able to get satisfying results, ending the first half on 13-31 shooting (41.9 percent), including 7-15 from deep (46.6 percent).
Southern, on the other hand, battled it out under the boards, plowing through lanes and collecting rebounds and second-chance points. Forwards Taurus Adams II, a senior, and Greg Jones, a junior, both contributed to the work on the glass, ending the half with 12 combined rebounds — Adams had seven and Jones five.
The Owls offense was able to stretch the lead out to 19 at one point, thanks to the offensive efforts from guard CJ Seaforth, a junior who ended the half with 15 points, and Bennett, who had broken his career-high in points with 10 at the half. However, Concordia created offense and went on a run late in the half, battling back to bring the deficit back down to 49-41 going into halftime.
“We came out with great energy. We ran a great offense early, made a lot of shots early. We just gave them two runs,” said head coach Scott Burrell. “We were up 15 at one point, got to build on that. We were up 19 at another point in the first half, got to build on that and stop letting the other team go on runs.”
In the second half, everything seemed to go right for the Owls. Offensively, Seaforth and Bennett continued to find the bottom of the net and score at will, while the exact opposite happened for the Clippers, who fired from deep frequently, only to have the ball clank off the backboard.
As the final minutes passed, the Owls found themselves up by over 30 points and chose to put in their bench, signaling that the game was over. Seaforth ended the game with 24 points, five assists along with two steals and a block. Adams kept up the work on the glass, earning himself a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
For Bennett, who was playing in his first career game at Moore Field House, and before this game had scored a maximum of eight points, showed out for the home crowd, collecting 20 points, four rebounds and five assists.
Bennett said his goal before the game was to start the game with energy, something he said he had been lacking in the team’s previous games.
“Lately, I’ve been starting off kind of slow since I’m a freshman, but my coach brought me into the office and let me know that I needed to be more aggressive,” said Bennett, “so my mindset was just to be aggressive, make sure everybody’s happy before I get happy and just make sure everybody’s working together.”
While being a freshman, Bennett has earned his way onto the starting lineup since the beginning of the season, and Burrell said he already has the ability to help run the offense.
“He’s a stable point guard who’s getting better every game. We just need him to make jump shots when he’s open,” said Burrell. “He’s getting more comfortable with it, but he’s a very good leader, he’s getting better, and he’s tough on defense.”
All in all, five Owls ended in double-digit scoring. Along with Seaforth, Taurus and Bennett, guards Khalil Richard, a junior, and Isaiah Boissard, a red-shirt junior, both ended with 11 points. Seaforth said the team is ready and able to take on their next opponent, NE10 matchup American International College on Nov. 26.
“We feel real confident. Now it’s conference play, we got to buckle down a little harder,” said Seaforth. “Teams in conference are a little better than outside conference play, but we’re ready for AIC.”
Photo credit: Hunter O. Lyle