By Kylie Garrett
The men’s basketball team remains in fourth place in the East Coast Conference after losing a close game on their home floor to the Saint Thomas Aquinas Spartans on Feb. 17. The Pioneers came out strong in the first half, jumping to a quick lead due to awless shooting from behind the arc. The Spartans, who trailed by five in the first four minutes of the game, were quick to answer back towards the end of the first half, gaining a lead and making the score 43-26 at the half.
Leading the Pioneers was sophomore Jared Rivers, who scored just under his average of 18. He had 17 points, shooting three of five from three-point range. Right behind rivers were seniors Aary Bibens and Kyle McLeggan.
McLeggan had 12 points in 30 minutes while Bibens had 11 and shot a stunning 50 percent from the field. The Pioneers, who struggled scoring inside, only scored 12 points in the paint all night, while the Spartans scored almost half of their points in paint, 36.
Within the first six minutes of the second half, the Pioneers went on a 10-0 run, bringing them within seven points making the score 49-42. The Spartans fought to keep the lead, and the Pioneers’ attempt to rally again fell short. According to McLeggan, the team struggled offensively. “We struggled hitting shots as a team. We rely heavily on our ability to get stops on defense, but if we don’t score, it makes everything harder for us,” McLeggan said.
Statistically the game was close, but in the end LIU couldn’t keep up with STAC. The Pioneers made a couple of big runs in the second half that kept them in a close game, but that first half deficit was something they couldn’t come back from.
The men’s basketball team returns to the Pratt Recreation Center for a matchup with Daemen College on Friday, Feb. 23. Tip-off will follow a ceremony honoring the three senior Pioneers, Kyle McLeggan majoring in economics, Aary Bibens majoring in business management and Hunter Powell majoring in criminal justice.