Sports

Men’s Basketball’s Skid Reaches Seven Straight

Deon-Jones-GSThe men's basketball team lost their seventh straight game this Sunday, Feb. 16 when they fell to the Marist College Red Foxes in a double-overtime thriller here at the MAC. The loss came just two days after the team fell to the Iona College Gaels at the Hynes Center in New Rochelle, NY.

With the weekend results , MU now finds themselves seven games below five hundred with a 10-17 overall record. The team also sits at ninth in the MAAC with a 4-12 record in conference play.

For the first game of the weekend the Hawks fell to the first-place Gaels by a final score of 89-70 on Friday, Feb.14.

"I take my hat off to Iona because they are a tough team to match up with," head coach King Rice said after the game. "There is still a lot of basketball to be played and we just have to get going the right way before the tournament."

Junior guard Deon Jones paced MU with 16 points on 7-9 shooting, and also grabbed seven rebounds for the game. Freshman center Chris Brady also had a solid all-around game as he grabbed a career high 12 rebounds and added 8 points. Junior forward Khalil Brown was the second highest Hawk scorer with 13 points on 6-8 shooting.

Iona had two players score more than any Hawk player on the night, and also had five players finish with double-digit points. Tre Bowman scored a game high 23 on 8-15 shooting while A.J. English finished with a double-double of 21 points and 13 assists. Sean Armand, Isaiah Williams, and Mike Poole finished with 13, 13, and 11 points respectively.

The Hawks shot well for the game as they finished with a 50.8 percent mark from the field while the Gaels shot 46.7 percent on the night, but they could not overcome 14 Iona three pointers compared to just three of their own. MU also struggled to both get to the free-throw line, and capitalize when they did, as they went just 5-15 on the night (33.3 percent) while the Gaels went 19-27 from the stripe, good for 70.4 percent on the game.

Through the first five minutes of play neither team took control as the Gaels only held a slim 9-7 lead. At the 14:13 mark a steal and breakaway dunk by English kick started a 16-8 Iona run that gave them a comfortable 25-15 lead with under eight minutes remaining in the first half.

A lay-in from freshman center Zac Tillman got the Hawks to within nine with 6:32 left to play, but that was the closest MU would get the rest of the half. English's three just seconds later brought the Gaels' lead back to double-digits, and again started an Iona run. This time it was a 16-9 burst that extended the lead to 16 points as the first half came to a close.

MU got off to a rocky start in the first few moments of the second half as the team had two turnovers in the first 40 seconds, but Iona did not capitalize on the opportunities to extend the lead even further, and managed only one point off of the turnovers.

The Hawks freshmen then helped settle things down as MU went on an 8-0 run with Josh James, Brady, and Tillman each scoring a basket during the stretch. The short run brought the Hawks back to within single digits with the score being 43-34 just three minutes into the half.

Iona didn't allow the blue and white to gain any more momentum, however, and a Bowman three brought the lead back to twelve before the Gaels took complete control of the game by outscoring the Hawks 15-2 over the next five minutes of play. The scoring outburst gave Iona a 61-36 lead, and put the game away for good as MU never mounted a series comeback the final 13 minutes of the contest, and eventually fell by 19 points.

The win was Iona's ninth consecutive, and it pushed the team's record to 17-8 overall including a 14-2 record in the MAAC, which is good enough for first place in the conference.

Sunday's contest against Marist was a much more competitive matchup that saw the Hawks twice battle back to force overtime and double-overtime. However, the blue and white couldn't get over the hump and gain the victory as they eventually went down by a final score of 96-92.

"Today was a great college basketball game," said Rice. "Marist just seemed to make a few more plays than us, but I am so proud of my kids."

For the second straight game MU fell despite shooting above 50 percent from the field. Overall, the Hawks went 35-69 (50.7 percent) compared to 30-66 (45.5 percent) shooting from Marist. However, it was a different story from the three point line as the Red Foxes went 15-34 (44.1 percent) while the Hawks shot only 7-20 (35 percent) from beyond the arc.

Jones again led MU as he tied his career high with 27 points to go along with his seven rebounds, which also led the team. Tillman also posted a career high in points with 17, and tied Jones with a team- leading seven rebounds. James and junior guard Andrew Nicholas were the only two other Hawks to score in double figures with 13 and 16 apiece.

Marist had a more top-heavy stat line with three players combining to score 78 of their 96 total points. Chavaughn Lewis netted a game high 28 points while Khallid Hart and Jay Bowie finished right behind him with 26 and 24 points each. Bowie recorded a double-double on the night as he grabbed ten rebounds to lead MC.

Both teams traded baskets the first 10 minutes of the contest, and neither held a lead larger than three. With 8:28 to go in the first half MU was finally able to take a decent sized lead behind a 11-0 run. The stretch was bookended by a Jones three and mid-range jumper, and gave the Hawks a 31-23 lead with under four minutes remaining in the half.

The Red Foxes battled back over the final minutes of the half, and two three-pointers from Bowie helped them tie the game at 33. Nicholas was able to break the tie before the half, however, when his lay-up with 17 seconds left gave the Hawks a slim 35-33 advantage heading into halftime.

Much of the second half played out very similarly to the first as the two teams went back and forth with neither able to sustain a period of dominance. After a Nicholas three gave the Hawks a four point lead at the 8:39 mark, Marist answered right back and grabbed their biggest lead of the game, with a 16-2 run to make the score 71-61 with four and half minutes to go in the contest.

However, just as Marist did to end the first half, MU didn't go away and a 10-0 run over the final four minutes sent the game into overtime with the score tied at 71. MU's tying basket came when sophomore forward Tyrone O'Garro stole the ball from Hart and gave it up for a Nicholas lay-up with 44 seconds remaining in regulation.

The first overtime saw the Red Foxes gain a 81-75 advantage with only a minute and a half left on the clock, but the Hawks again showed resiliency and fought back to within two with 30 seconds to go. Thomas Manny then missed one of his two free throws to make the score 82-79, and Nicholas hit a three with only nine seconds to tie the game and send it into a second extra period.

Although the second overtime was highly competitive, the Hawks never managed to take a lead, and the Red Foxes hit free throws down the stretch to seal the four point victory.

The loss was a tough one to handle for MU, and the team now only has four games left in the regular season before they take part in the MAAC Championship Tournament.

The team will next take the court Wednesday, Feb. 19 when they host Manhattan. Tip-off is set for 7 pm.

PHOTO COURTESY of Jim Reme