By Thomas Scavetta
With just under ten seconds remaining, the men’s basketball team (13-9) gave up a coast-to-coast lay-up as time expired to drop their fourth consecutive game, 67-65, against Mercy College (8-9) on Wednesday, Feb. 3 in an East Coast Conference matchup in White Plains, N.Y.
After trailing 64-61 in the final moments of the contest, junior guard Jared Hall cashed in a pair of free throws on two consecutive trips to tie the game at 65. Immediately thereafter, Mavericks guard Tyseem Lyles sprinted down the floor for a fast-break lay-up to secure the win for the hosts.
In the first half, the Pioneers and Mavericks each had their fair share of runs, but the Pioneers were down 31-30 at the break. Hall led the Green and Gold with 15 points in the opening stanza.
This was truly a game of runs and the second half did not disappoint. Post erupted with a 10-0 stretch highlighted by senior guard Chris Orozco who tallied five points. Senior guard Devon McMillan buried a three as the Pioneers grabbed a 40-31 advantage less than three minutes into the latter half.
However, Mercy continued to hang around using an 11-2 spurt to even up the score at 42 at the ten-minute mark. Both teams continued to trade blows, but the Mavericks eventually finished strong enough to give themselves a chance to win, which is exactly what they did. Mavericks guard Jason Quijada paved the way with 20 points and three steals. Similar to their last meeting, the Pioneers defense was unable to contain forward William Robinson who was one rebound shy of a double-double, logging 17 points and nine rebounds.
Hall racked up 26 points and converted 13-of-14 free throw attempts while McMillan added 12 points, eight rebounds and two steals to his stat-line. Junior forward Greg Dotson was quiet with just eight points, but crashed the boards with 10 rebounds and recorded two blocks and two steals.
Things didn’t get any better when the Pioneers came back home to the Pratt Recreation Center on Saturday, Feb. 6, as their losing-streak extended to five in a 71-58 defeat to St. Thomas Aquinas College (18-4); a team they beat earlier in the season.
Although the Pioneers shot lights out throughout most of the game, they were unable to contain junior guard Chaz Walter who scored 29 points for the Spartans.
The opening stanza was a three-point shootout as the two squads combined for 11 made trifectas. Although the Pioneers finished the day shooting over 72 percent from downtown, they were sloppy throughout majority of the contest, committing 22 turnovers and shooting just 36 percent from the charity stripe.
In the opening twenty minutes, there were three ties and five lead changes as the Spartans brought a 30-27 edge into the locker room. Walter and sophomore guard Shaquille McFarlan each totaled eleven points for the visitors. Hall led the Pioneers with nine points, five rebounds and three helpers.
Once senior guard Dillon Burns knocked down the game-tying three to open up the second half, the Spartans picked apart the Pioneers to take a commanding 49-36 lead. Walter continued to dominate for the guests, scoring from everywhere on the floor.
That would end up being all she wrote as the Pioneers only came as close as eight points (51-43) the remainder of the game. Dotson led the squad with 18 points while Hall inked 17 points, seven boards, three assists and two steals, but also had five turnovers. Burns chipped in with 11 points, five assists and nicked three steals.
Head Coach Erick Smiles and the Pioneers hope to bounce back when they return to the floor on Wednesday, Feb. 10, when they square off against Molloy College in an ECC duel at the Pratt Recreation Center. After getting off to a hot start in ECC action, the Pioneers now sit at 8-6 in conference play. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.