Exciting end in men’s hoops
Morgan Douglas – Sports Editor
Men’s basketball scored its second straight close victory by defeating the American International College Yellow Jackets 77-76 at James Moore Field House.
The Yellow Jackets came into the game reeling, having lost nine straight, but have given the Owls fits over recent years, having won four straights with the Owls last victory against them coming in 2018.
“They’re relentless,” guard Lyron Bennett, a sophomore, said. “They always battle. They never give up and they’re definitely very tough on the boards.”
At the start of the game, the opposition did not appear as though it would pose much trouble for the home team.
The Owls started the game hot, jumping out to a 16-2 lead, with everybody contributing, it looked like it was going to be a game of bully ball until AIC went on a 10-0 run to make things competitive again in the first half.
Things were beginning to look grim after AIC took the lead and a slam dunk by Yellow Jacket guard Walter Covington capped off a 9-0 run to put them up four and forced Owls’ head coach Scott Burrell to call a timeout.
Whatever adjustment they made must have worked, because the Owls went on a 7-0 run of their own out of the timeout.
Each team trade the lead in the final minutes of the half and the Owls went into the break with a 37-35 lead.
“There’s been a lot of games when we could’ve quit and it would’ve gotten ugly,” guard Ulyen Coleman, a junior, said. “But we compete, and I think that’s the biggest thing you can say about any team is being competitive.”
At the half, Coleman had nine points and a team-high five rebounds.
The second half was reminiscent of the first. The Owls would begin to pull away, leading by 14 at one point, only for AIC to storm their way back to within striking distance.
“We’re a hard nose team,” Coleman said. “Sometimes you have lapses though which really kills us, but when we’re focused, I think that’s our strongest attribute.”
Bennett drilled a three-pointer with just over three minutes left in the game to put the Owls up by nine, and it felt like the shot to ice the game at the time.
“We worked on it earlier,” Bennett said. “As soon as the defender backed off, I felt I had enough space to take it.”
AIC would go on one final run in the moments to follow.
Coming out of a timeout, the ball went to guard C.J. Seaforth, a senior, who hit the dagger three-pointer to put them up two possessions with very little time left.
“Coach set it up for me,” Seaforth said. “He puts a lot of confidence in me, my teammates put confidence in me and it’s a big shot and I come up big in big moments.”
AIC did their best to come back in the final seconds, but a Bennett layup put to bed any chances of it, and the Owls won 77-76 to improve to 6-11 for the season.
Bennett and Coleman led the team with 20 points apiece and Seaforth chipped in 17, with 11 of those points coming in the second half.
“We’re all killers,” Seaforth said. “When we all get it going, giving it. Passing it. Swinging to each side. We have a good team. We have a lot of scorers.”
The Owls next play is on Tuesday against Pace University in Moore Field House, looking to make it three straight victories.
“We’re very tough,” Bennett said. “Obviously, we’ve struggled, but we’ve turned over a new leaf now.”