Men’s basketball loses game against NE10 giant Le Moyne
Sam Tapper – Sports Writer
With the top team in the NE10 Southwest Division coming to Moore Field House, the Owls’ men’s basketball team had the opportunity for a statement win and to come another step closer to clinching a postseason spot. Instead, the Owls suffered a 73- 60 loss to the Le Moyne Dolphins.
The Owls had just one lead in the game at 2-0, thanks to a layup in traffic by forward Greg Jones, a junior. Le Moyne quickly countered with senior forward Tom Brown converting on an and-one to make it 3-2. From that point, the Dolphins did not trail again.
Le Moyne’s offense came out hot in the early going, hitting three after three in the first half. The Dolphins built themselves a 10-point lead in the first 10 minutes of play. For the rest of the half, the Owls were not able to get it any closer than that.
“We just didn’t have any energy, no effort, we didn’t have a purpose,” said Owls’ head coach Scott Burrell. “I think we had the chance to move up the ladder [in the NE10], to make a statement of who we were going to be finishing up the season, and we laid an egg, basically.”
The Owls offense could never seem to get going on the night. In the first half, they shot 13-for-37 and just 1-for-14 from three-point range. For much of the first half, the Dolphins’ defense had the Owls forcing shots, all the while they continued to sink threes of their own, shooting 7-of-16 from deep.
“We didn’t move the ball, we didn’t take good shots, we weren’t strong with the ball,” Burrell said. “We didn’t come ready to play on both ends, offensively and defensively, we weren’t strong or tough, we weren’t aggressive, we weren’t the same team that played last Wednesday, but we had two bad days of practice and it carried over to today’s game.”
After being down 40-29 at the half, the Owls, for a time, found new energy to start the second. Their defensive effort for the first few minutes was solid and forward Taurus Adams II, a senior who had eight points and nine rebounds on the night, was able to cut the deficit back to single digits. However, that did not last for long, as a nine-point Dolphins lead grew to 21 in just four minutes.
The Owls’ offensive struggles continued from that point, their largest deficit being 23. In total, the Owls shot 25-70 on the night, just under 36 percent. Jones was the leading scorer for Southern with 15 points and 12 rebounds, his fourth double-double of the season. Guard Isaiah Boissard, a redshirt junior, finished with 11 and guard Levar Allen, a freshman, finished with 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting off the bench. The area where the Owls struggled most, however, was three-point shooting, going just 3-for27 from beyond the arch.
“We started missing a lot, then we just started to get very stagnant, we just started to take unforced shots,” said guard Lyron Bennett, a freshman.
“We just weren’t playing as a team and that’s one thing where we’ve been struggling all season, that’s one thing we’ve got to work on is fighting through adversity.”
Bennett finished with six points but also grabbed 10 rebounds for the third time this season and dished out a teamhigh four assists. The Owls were able to spark an 11-2 run for themselves to get back into it, cutting the lead to 58-44 with just over nine minutes left.
After a Le Moyne timeout, the Dolphins sparked an 11-5 run of their own, extending the lead back up to 69-49 with 3:13 on the clock. At that point, the game was sealed for the Dolphins.
“We came out a little slow, and we can’t come out a little slow against the best team in the conference,” said guard C.J. Seaforth, a junior, who finished with only three points. “We’ve got to come out stronger the next game.”
With the loss, the Owls fall to 13-10 overall and 8-8 in the NE10. Going into the game, the Owls were in third place in the division. They are now tied with Pace again for fourth, as UNH picked up a win against AIC to jump into third. The Owls will face their cross-town rival, New Haven on Feb. 19 as every matchup at this point becomes critical for the NE10 Tournament.
“Just pride, pride, you’ve got to have pride in competing,” Burrell said of where his team needs to improve. “Forget the X’s and O’s, you’ve got to have pride in competing and trying to win a game. That’s the bottom line.”