By Thomas Scavetta
Assistant Sports Editor
After falling behind by 17 points in the first half, men’s basketball (5-2) battled back to secure a 71-63 victory over the Mercy College Mavericks (1-3) in their East Coast Conference debut, Saturday, Dec. 5, at the Pratt Recreation Center in Brookville, N.Y.
The Pioneers were coming off a loss against seventh-ranked Southern Connecticut State University Monday night where they surrendered 98 points. Saturday’s first half seemed to be a bit of a hangover as the Pioneers were down 40-23 late in the opening stanza. Part of the issue was finding an answer for Mavericks’ center William Robinson, who scored 13 first-half points. However, sophomore forward Hunter Powell finally slowed Robinson down late in the half as the Pioneers chipped away at the lead, going into the locker room down 42-32.
In the second half, the Green and Gold flipped the switch with a 12-2 run, which tied the game at
44 apiece at the 13:38 mark. All the momentum had shifted to the hosts as junior guard Jared Hall knocked down the jumper to tie up the score.
Mavericks guard Shaquille Stokes would bury a corner three out of the timeout to regain the lead for the visitors, but the Pioneers erupted with an 8-1 run as senior guard Dillon Burns scored five of the first seven points.
Burns also drained the eventual dagger, a three-pointer from the top of the key, putting the game to bed. The 5’7” guard was one of many players who had an impressive second half after only scoring two points in the first 20 minutes of play. Burns finished with 15 points, seven assists, and four steals. Junior forward Greg Dotson also struggled early on, but still tallied 10 points, five rebounds, and three steals. Leading the pack in scoring was Hall who scored a game-high 22 points, with six boards, and three steals.
Mercy fell apart in the second half as they only made four field goals, shooting just 16 percent from the field, and only making one three-pointer after making seven from downtown in the first period. Mercy scored just 21 second half points and turned the ball over 24 times in the contest, which helped the Pioneers get back into the game.
Defensively, LIU was able to limit Robinson and Stokes who were on fire in the first half. Robinson recorded 21 points and 10 rebounds and Stokes had 20 points, three assists, and two steals.
Head Coach Erik Smiles will lead his squad back on the floor on Wednesday, Dec. 9, as he prepares to square off against his alma mater, the University of Bridgeport, in an ECC duel at the Pratt Recreation Center in Brookville, N.Y. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.