Men’s basketball winning streak ends
Hunter O. Lyle – Sports Editor
Matched up against NE10 opponent Stonehill College, the men’s basketball team was unable to carry on their winning streak, losing 67-59 despite a late game surge from the Owls.
Coming into this game, Southern had won their three previous games, all of which were in-conference. Most recently, in the team’s match up against Franklin Pierce on Jan. 22, when the Owls won 75-66 at home, forward Greg Jones, a junior, finished the game with 25 points and 15 rebounds, becoming the first Owl to garner that stat line since 2016.
“We competed,” said head coach Scott Burrell of the teams three game win streak, “We didn’t compete tonight.”
In the first half against the Skyhawks, the game was centered around ironclad defense, but not for the Owls. Stonehill was able to stop ball movement, deny entry inside and strip the ball from the Owls relentlessly, forcing 10 turnovers in the opening half alone.
On the other side of the ball, both teams chose to attack inside, as the shots from distance refused to sink for either the Skyhawks or the Owls — who shot 3-11 and 3-10 respectively. Post play became a major focus.
At the end of the first, the Skyhawks had run up the score to 33-25 off 15-32 shooting (46 percent), while the Owls fell behind due to offensive woes — 9-25 shooting from the field (36 percent), including 3-10 (30 percent) from deep while also shooting 4-7 (57 percent) from the line.
Jones, who could be seen as the reason the game was still somewhat competitive, was the only Owl to score over five points in the first half, tallying 12 points and five rebounds.
“We had to be aggressive with them. Be physical,” said Jones on the teams attempts to slow the Skyhawks inside. “Don’t let them keep on bringing the fight to you. You [have to] throw a couple punches back. You can’t keep letting them score.”
The second half for the Owls was completely dominated by Jones.
Jones opened the half with a three, and preceded to go on a hot streak from beyond the arc, connecting on four more deep shots throughout the game.
Despite the efforts from Jones, the Skyhawks were still able to create successful possessions, starting six for eight out of the gates — Southern started three for seven. With just over six minutes in the game, Stonehill was on top 56-44.
However, a block from forward Taurus Adams II, a senior, as well as a steal and some instant offense from guard Lyron Bennett, a freshman, sparked a 10-0 run that put the Owls right back in the fight. With 1:22 left on the clock, the Owls trailed by just five, 61-56.
“We just kept fighting,” said Adams. “We had been down the whole game, all you can do is fight at that point.”
With the clock running down, the Owls had no choice but to continuously foul the Skyhawks, hoping to capitalize on any missed free throws, but it was to no avail. As the final buzzer sounded, Stonehill claimed victory, winning 67-59.
Besides Jones, who finished with a career-high in points with 31 and five rebounds, and Adams who was able earn his ninth double-double of the season — the first player to do so in one season since 2016 — with 11 points and 10 rebounds. No other Owls ended in double digits scoring.
“We got man-handled, we got out-toughed and we didn’t make shots,” said Burrell. “We weren’t ready to play. I don’t know why. We were riding off a big win against Franklin Pierce, but we just didn’t come ready to play today.”
With the team being in the second half of the season, facing only nine more games, Burrell said the team’s goal is to bring more energy and capitalize on opportunities for wins.
“Number one we have to take care of home court. I mean, you can’t give away games on home court, well [Stonehill] took it, we didn’t give it away. They took it tonight,” said Burrell. “We have to have more fight. We have to win home games and hopefully steal some games on the road.”