Men’s basketball loses momentum on the road

UAA record falls to 4-5

J.P. O'Hagan, Staff Reporter

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“Our team fed off our great crowds on Friday nights,” head coach Sean McDonnell said, “I hope we can get the best turnout of the season this Friday.”

This statement was extremely evident over the weekend. Following two strong wins against Brandies and New York University two weeks ago, the Spartans were unable to capture the energy of the crowd when on the road, and dropped both games.

The Spartans were rolling with a three game win streak before being stopped cold by Brandies who handed the Spartans a tough 85-74 loss last Friday night. The Spartan starting five all scored in double digits for the third straight game, led by Tim Chung and David Thompson who had 17 each. Despite the strong showing from the starting five the Spartans were beat in two important scoring categories, both in points in the paint (34 to 14) and points off the bench (53 to 6).

The Spartans opened the game with sharpshooting, grabbing nine points off three from behind the arc. They would work their way up to a nine-point lead with 14:29 to play in the half but Brandies then rattled off 20-2 run to dominate the half. The Judges’ lead would grow to 15 before the Spartans were able to score eight straight to pull within single digits with 2:37 left to play. Brandeis took back the momentum late in the half however going back up by a double-digit lead, 36-26, at the half.

The momentum continued in Brandeis’ favor into the half as the Judges reached a 16 point lead with 13:50 left to play. A 14-4 run by the Spartans in gave a glimmer of hope as Case Western pulled with in six, but the Judges refused to relent and finished the game strong, withholding all attempts at a Spartan comeback. “Brandeis was the more aggressive team and they forced us out of our comfort zone,” said McDonnell.

Thompson delivered a career high 26 points on Sunday but it was still not enough to keep the Spartans on track. New York University handed Case its second straight loss in a much closers 79-74 final.

Thompson and the Spartans started hot in their second match up, as Thompson had 12 of the Spartan’s first 14 points. His hot shooting gave the team a one-point lead at the 11:45 mark but New York University would build to a five-point lead in the later part of the first half. A few missed opportunities to score lead the momentum to shift in the Violets favor leading to the Spartans behind down 37-34 at the half.

The Violets jumped out to a seven-point lead shortly after the break and the Spartans were forced to play from behind. Two three point plays, on the next few possessions gave the Spartans a footing and brought them back within one. The first three points came when Dane McLoughlin was fouled behind the arc and found the net on all three attempts at the line. Julien Person connected on the and-one for the second three points. Back-and-forth play resumed but the Spartans were unable to tie the game until the 6:49 mark when Thompson hit a triple.

The battle continued fiercely into the final minutes with the Violets taking back the lead 74-73 with 45 seconds left to play and forced free throws on both ends of the court, sealed it as New York was able to walk with the win. “NYU hurt us on the offensive boards in the second half and made a few key plays down the stretch,” said McDonnell.

With the two losses the Spartans drop to 12-8, and 4-5 in conference play. The Spartans return home for their final games at Horsburgh Gymnasium on Friday and Sunday, February 14-16. If the home crowd comes out in force we can expect great games from the Spartans to close out the season at home. “Winning on the road in the UAA is very difficult. We have had great crowds for out two Friday home games and I hope that holds true this Friday versus Rochester,” said McDonnell.