Perhaps it was just a shift in the schedules with classes beginning, or maybe the snowfall was the primary culprit, but this past week was not a great one for the College’s men’s basketball team.
The Lions lost all three of their games, falling to 7-11 overall. Those losses included two in the NJAC, as the College dropped below .500 in the conference to 5-6.
“Every team at one point or another is going to struggle, no matter what level of basketball it is,” freshman guard Eric Klacik said of the rough week.
The first game, a 77-72 defeat to the City College of New York, came down to the final minute, where a questionable charging call went against the Lions and turned a potential three-point advantage into a two-point deficit. It was the second time this season the Lions fell against City College in the game’s final ticks, as the team lost their opening game to the same team 76-73 on a buzzer-beater. The back-and-forth game was noticeably heated at times, with a double technical being called on the Lions’ junior guard Jayson Johnson and City College’s Anthony Lewis for getting into a confrontation with under seven minutes to play in the game.
Sophomore forward Bobby Brackett continued his torrid pace, leading the team by posting 25 points and 16 rebounds in the loss for his 13th double-double this year. Junior forward Skyelar Ettin chipped in 11 points, the only other Lion to reach double digits.
The College faced a similar situation in their second game of the week, again a rematch with a team that had beaten them before. As they did last time, William Paterson proved too much for the Lions, winning 83-56 in what was to that point the most lopsided game of the season for the College.
In that game, the Lions were led in scoring by junior forward Alex Fox, who scored 20 on six for seven shooting from the floor. The rest of the team struggled with their shots, as the College connected on only 39 percent of their attempts. Despite the less-than-stellar shooting, Brackett racked up another double-double, giving him 14 on the season, with a 13-point, 12-board effort.
Despite the lopsided result, though, the team’s spirits have not fallen.
“I think (that) even though the score did not reflect it we had some positives to take away from all of the games,” Ettin said. “In the William Paterson game we actually led at half-time, and played pretty good basketball for 20 minutes. However, basketball is a 40-minute game where every possession, every second is crucial, especially in the competitive NJAC.”
The team’s woes continued in their third and final game of the week, as the Lions took their soundest loss of the season against Kean University, 91-62. The College’s shooting problems continued, finding the net on only 37 percent of their shots, while Kean managed to hit on 50 percent.
Johnson led the team in scoring with 17, while Brackett was held under 10 rebounds and managed 13 points. Ettin and freshman guard Eric Klacik each had 10, the only other Lions in double figures.
The Lions continue their season this Wednesday, Jan. 29 at home at 8 p.m. in a rematch with Richard Stockton College and this Saturday, Feb. 1 in a second encounter with Ramapo College. In fact, all of the team’s remaining games come against opponents they’ve already met this season, and the team is ready for them.
“When playing a team twice it doesn’t come down to X’s and O’s,” Ettin said. “It comes down to the team that executes down the stretch and wants it more.”
Ettin isn’t the only one looking forward to playing these teams for a second time — especially after this week.
“I think the most important thing we learned the first time around the conference is how to make the other team play our game,” Klacik said. “In all of our conference wins, we played at our tempo, our style, and that is why the end result was in our favor. We are eager to respond from our 0-3 week and show that we can make a run for the top.”