By Michael Otero
Led by a second half charge that included a 13-point scoring advantage, the Pioneers forced overtime on Wednesday, Nov. 30, against the Wildcats from Daemen College, and sealed the deal in the extra session, winning 73-70 from the Pratt Recreation Center in Brookville, N.Y
Behind 58-44 with 10 minutes left, the Pioneers went on a 21-7 run to tie the score at 65 with 30 seconds left. Senior guard Jared Hall, who finished with 12 points and four assists, had the game-tying basket. During that stretch, three pointers brought the Pioneers back and were the catalyst; senior guard Jemal Mosley knocked down a pair, while senior forward Greg Dotston and junior guard Kyle McLeggan added three balls as well.
Both the Wildcats and Pioneers had opportunities to win in regulation; both failed to do so. In the overtime period, the Pioneers got four points from Mosley and a big two points from Dotson to solidify the comeback win.
Dotson had a game-and season-high 24 points on 67 percent shooting from the field, which included five three-pointers. He also grabbed 10 boards for a double-double. Mosley finished with 15 points, nine rebounds and three assists.
A big reason for its come-from-behind win was the second half performance. “We basically told our guys that we need to do a better job chasing and ball pressuring shooters this half and we need to get the ball inside against their zone. We were playing out of operating areas and not looking to get the ball inside,” Head Coach Erik Smiles said after the game. “In the second half we did a much better job moving the ball against their 3-2 zone and playing inside/out getting our forwards involved.”
The Pioneers returned to action on Saturday, Dec. 3, against American International College and it came down to the final possession. After the Yellow Jackets missed two free-throws that would’ve sealed the game, McLeggan attempted a game-tying three but was off the mark. The Pioneers lost 85-82 and dropped to 2-6 on the season.
Hall scored 14 points, including three trey balls, grabbed five rebounds and totaled five assists. Freshman guard Jared Rivers led the Pioneers in scoring with 17 on 6-of-10 shooting from the field.
The matchup was very even and the only significant advantage the Yellow Jackets held was points off turnovers, which help contribute to the win. They scored 20 points compared to 10 for the Pioneers. The Pioneers totaled 18 turnovers, which was the second most they committed this season, and shot just 37 percent from the floor.
One of the Pioneers’ strengths this season was defense and in its first matchup, the team held the opposition to 35 percent shooting, a huge reason for this victory. In its matchup vs AIC, it allowed the opponent to shoot 44 percent from the field. As Smiles said before the season, “We tell our guys if you can’t guard then you can’t play here.”
Smiles and his team will look to improve their defense when they return to the court on Wednesday, Dec. 7, against St. Thomas Aquinas College. Game-time from the Pratt Recreation Center is set for 7:30 p.m.