By Thomas Scavetta
Despite four Pioneers scoring in double gures, the men’s basketball team came up short against arch-rival, University of Bridgeport, 100-91, on Wednesday, Jan. 27, at Hubbell Gymnasium in Bridgeport, Conn.
The East Coast Conference duel commenced with the Pioneers (13-7) jumping out of the gate with a 10-4 lead thanks to junior guard Jared Hall who scored six of the team’s first 10 points. However, Hall only played 10 minutes in the first half due to foul trouble and had four turnovers. Bridgeport (8-7) took a 41-32 advantage into the locker room. The Purple Knights ourished behind the lights of senior forward Muhammed Ahmed, who tallied 13 points in the opening stanza.
After falling behind 47-33 a minute into the second half, the Pioneers began to chip away at the deficit. Just passed midway through the second half, the Green and Gold came within four points (61-57) after junior forward Barrington Alston dropped in a lay-up.
Bridgeport would re-gain their double-digit edge (79-69), but the Pioneers used an 11-0 stretch highlighted by a trifecta via senior guard Devon McMillan, as the Pioneers went on top 80-79 with just over three minutes left. Junior forward Greg Dotson gave the visitors the lead with a pair of free throws.
It was all Bridgeport from that point on though, as the Purple Knights used one last run to put the game to bed with under a minute remaining. Although the Pioneers shot 74% from the floor in the second half, it wasn’t enough to prevent the Purple Knights from clawing out another conference win. Hall finished with 24 points and six rebounds in the contest. McMillan tallied 17 points while Dotson chipped in with 15 points and six boards.
The Pioneers received a similar fate in Oakdale, N.Y. when they lost an 89-87 heartbreaker to Dowling College on Saturday, Jan. 30, in another ECC matchup.
With eight and a half minutes to go in regulation, the Pioneers staged a 24-7 run to take an 84-83 lead with just 1:04 remaining. Hall paved the way for the Pioneers during the run with seven points. Alston continued to dominate the interior and crashed home the go-ahead dunk.
From that point on, Dowling (10-9) stole the lead away and put the icing on the cake with six free-throws in the final 48 ticks as they held the Pioneers to just one eld goal.
In the first half, the Golden Lions had control for the most part as junior forward Chris Millender collected 14 points in the final six minutes of the period. Thanks to Millender’s effort during a 24-8 stretch, the hosts held a 10-point advantage (51-41) at the intermission.
Offensively, the Green and Gold continued to shoot the ball well at over 50% from the eld and 43% from downtown. Hall led the team with 25 points, in addition to his seven rebounds and five assists. Dotson provided 18 points, five rebounds and dished out two assists while McMillan recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards. Alston and sophomore forward Hunter Powell both contributed off the bench as the Delaware product had 11 points, five rebounds to go along with three steals and Powell pitched in with 10 points of his own.
Head Coach Erik Smiles and the Pioneers look to salvage the final game of their four-game road trip Wednesday, Feb. 3 against Mercy College in another ECC showdown at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, N.Y. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.