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Men’s basketball defeats American International College

Dillon Flanigan- Sports Editor

Emotions were flying high after the women’s basketball team’s victory; no pressure for the men, as they defeated American International College, AIC, Yellow Jackets 84-80 in overtime on Friday, March 1. 

“We’ve struggled in the first half, struggling to score the ball,” forward Kazell Stewart, a sophomore, said. “It’s just about being positive at the end of the day. As long as we keep positive, everything is going to work out.” 

To kick off the first round of the men’s NE10 Tournament, forward Josh McGettigan, a graduate, hit a jumper to put the Owls on the board. The university built their lead to 7-5 when AIC took an 8-0 run. 

Photo: Dillon Flanigan

Guard Mason Williams, a graduate, knocked down a three followed by a pair of McGettigan free throws and a three-pointer. The Yellow Jackets were up 20-19 with seven minutes to go in the first half, but the Owls offense scored ten consecutive points. 

It was a truly back and forth game throughout the contest. Every possession seemed to be the difference maker. Williams shot a three-pointer to take a 37-31 lead at halftime. 

Williams, guard Christian Joe, a freshman, and guard Sean James, a junior, all rotated in early on. This half seemed to be where the university tried to find what mix of five Owls fit. 

“Mason, he just gives us more size, and when you’re playing bigger athletic teams, you kind of want more size out there,” Head Coach Burrell said. “When you make a change for Christian, you want more motion offense in the paint to create things for other people. Shawn makes shots and can create for other people too.” 

While teams were in the locker room, the university held a ceremony to honor the 2013-2014 elite eight team. The alumni, their family in attendance, were joined by Interim President Dwayne Smith and Athletic Director Terrence Jones. A recap commemorating their magical run was aired on the jumbotron in front of a packed house. 

Photo: Dillon Flanigan

Out of the break, forward Cherif Diarra, a sophomore, completed a free throw. Except for a 7-0 run for the Owls midway through the second half, neither team appeared to take the momentum. 

“We started out slow,” guard Marty Silvera, a junior, said. “I feel like the second half we did more attacking and just going up and taking the wide-open shots. And it started working.” 

With a minute left, Silvera made two free throws, making the university one point shy of a tie score, 69-68. The Yellow Jackets then took what turned to be a crucial timeout for the Owls. 

“Just execute. We try to draw up a play- a lot of time left,” Burrell said. “Get a bucket. Get a stop.” 

After two free throws by a Yellow Jacket, five seconds remained on the clock. Silvera inbounded the ball, passing it off to McGettigan waiting in the corner for an off-balance game-tying three-pointer. 

“This is it for me,” McGettigan said. “I am trying to get the NE10 Championship and try and go as far as we can as a team. It was just a huge momentum boost for us.” 

Heading to overtime, Silvera opened it with a jumper. After a basket by AIC, McGettigan hit back-to-back jumpers for the Owls. Diarra made a layup as Stewart completed three of four free throws to advance the Owls past the Yellow Jackets. 

Burrell said, “They never died; they never gave up. We got to play with that spirit and energy for 40 minutes. If we do that, hopefully it won’t come down to that, but never gave up and took care of home court. And now we go on to Bentley.” 

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