By Otto Gomez
The Lions headed into the week eager to continue their strong play and extend a four game winning streak against NJAC opponents, with games against Rowan University on Wednesday, Feb. 4, and New Jersey City University on Saturday, Feb. 7.
While the entire team and coaching staff has gained a lot of momentum from their hot stretch, coach Kelly Williams ’93 understood that his team must continue to focus and avoid getting too confident.
“Our conference is so competitive, so we must continue to play great basketball on both ends of the court to continue our success over the month,” Williams said. “It is nice to see our guys playing with so much passion and confidence. We understand that we have to focus on the next game and continue to have sharp intense practices to earn a playoff spot.”
However, the Lions came up short against both teams, losing 69-63 against Rowan and 63-58 to NJCU. Facing Rowan, starters senior Jayson Johnson and freshman Eric Murdock, Jr. led the College in scoring with 15 points. Murdock, Jr., a freshman who has started every game this season, continued his impressive play after receiving the NJAC Rookie of the Week award for the week ending on Sunday, Feb. 1.
“As a freshman, I was assigned the roles of being a tough defender and keeping the offense organized. Whatever the team needs to win I am prepared to do,” Murdock, Jr. said. “This helps us maintain good chemistry and makes it easy for me to mesh well with my teammates.”
He has been instrumental in the success of the squad this year, ranking second in assists and averaging third in play time. While Johnson cut the lead to three points very late in the game, the Profs managed to hit their free throws to close the game for sure.
On Saturday, Feb. 7, the Lions traveled to Jersey City looking to shake off their earlier loss. While the game was close throughout, neither team saw a double digit lead all day long, and the Lions took a four-point lead late in the match. That’s when NJCU caught fire, however, scoring the last nine points to secure the five point victory. Junior Bobby Brackett, the team’s leading rebounder, posted another double-double with 14 points and 16 rebounds, and senior Skyelar Ettin added 12 points and six boards in the effort, making up for an uncharacteristic seven-point outing from leading scorer Johnson. While playing solid defense throughout, the entire team struggled shooting, only connecting on 28 percent of their shots.
The team continues their push to the playoffs on the road as they visit Ramapo College on Wednesday, Feb. 11, for a 7:30 p.m. start. They return home to Packer Hall to host William Paterson University on Saturday, Feb. 14.