Men’s basketball crushes Saint Rose on Senior Day
Sam Tapper – Sports Writer
After an energizing victory over rival New Haven four days prior, the Owls’ men’s basketball team closed out their home regular-season schedule with a 91-72 thrashing of the Golden Knights of Saint Rose.
It was Senior Day for the Owls, focusing on the team’s only senior, forward Taurus Adams II. Adams was honored before the game with his teammates, coaches and family in town from Milwaukee, Wis. to watch Adams play on the court he has called home one last time — at least in the regular season.
“It was pretty emotional,” Adams said. “My family is here. I haven’t seen them much this year, so it felt good to be able to play in front of them and have a good game while doing that.”
Coming in, the Golden Knights were just 2-15 in NE10 play and 5-21 overall. Despite the record, Saint Rose hung right with the Owls in the first half. Over the first 17 minutes, each team practically traded baskets with each other, with the Owls up by just a bucket with five minutes to go until halftime.
From there, the Owls outscored the Golden Knights 10-6, taking a 42-36 lead into the half. Saint Rose’s guard Adam Anderson, a junior, had 17 of his team’s 36 points at the half and finished with 30 overall on 11-for-18 shooting. The Owls were led in the first half by Adams, who nearly had a double-double in the first half, and guard Levar Allen, a freshman, who had 10 of his 15 in the first, in his second consecutive start.
“We kind of started out a little slow,” said head coach Scott Burrell. “But I think we moved the ball, we competed, we got stops, we had 24 assists. When you get 24 assists you know guys are happy and they’re going to compete when they’re happy and play hard throughout the game.”
In the second half, the Owls took over. Two 3-pointers, first from forward Greg Jones, a junior, and then by guard Lyron Bennett, a freshman, sparked a 19-4 run for Southern, turning their six-point halftime lead into a 21-point advantage in just seven minutes. Saint Rose cut the deficit to 17 on multiple occasions, but never got any closer than that.
“Anderson made shots, kept them in the game,” Burrell said. “So, we never got a run going to pull away. But [in the second half] we finally got a run and pulled away from them and got some stops.”
The Owls were led in the second half by Jones, who had 14 of his 21 points in the second half. Jones also finished a rebound shy of a double-double with nine and shot 7-of-13 from the floor, 2-for-4 from deep and a perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line. He leads the team in 20-point games with five on the season.
His fellow big-man Adams matched Jones with 21 points of his own and matched a career-high in rebounds with 19. This was Adams’ tenth double double of the year. The Owls’ third big man, Zack Penn, also contributed 10 points.
“He’s going to fight with me, he’s going to make shots, he’s going to play hard,” said Jones of Adams. “He’s a great person to play with because he passes the ball and makes shots. He just knows how to play basketball.”
Though the Owls were led by dominant play among their big men the whole night, the guard play of Bennett provided them with offense and energy despite having a tough shooting night, going just 4-for-14 from the floor and 1-of-5 from three.
Still, Bennett finished with a double-double with 11 points and 12 of the team’s 24 assists — a career high.
“I had a tough first half, but then I just had to find myself,” Bennett said. “Coach was like, ‘Just play your game, slow it down’ because I was moving kind of fast, so, second half I just regrouped during halftime, got my head together, and just started playing my game more.”
With the win, the Owls improve to 15-10 and 10-8 in conference play. They have now ensured that they will not finish lower than third in the NE10 Southwest Division, thanks to American International’s win over Pace. The Owls will travel to Adelphi, the No. 2 seed in the division, for their final game of the regular season before the conference tournament.
“I’m ready,” said Adams. “We’re in the NE10 Conference Tournament. We’re trying to make the NCAA Tournament again. We haven’t been there since my freshman year, so, we’re definitely trying to make it there.”
Photo Credit: Hunter Lyle