The season for men’s basketball has come to a close after Dowling College defeated the Pioneers at the Pratt Center on Tuesday, March 5 in the first round of the East Coast Conference Tournament. The sixth-seeded Golden Lions edged out the third-ranked Pioneers by a final score of 70-64. The only hope the Pioneers had of making the NCAA Tournament was winning the ECC Tournament. The Golden Lions squashed any hope the Pioneers had of advancing.
With just under one minute left to play in regulation, Pioneers’ senior guard Billy Butler evened the score up at 63. However, the Golden Lions closed out the game with a 7-1 run making clutch shots and not allowing the Pioneers to get into a set offense.
The Pioneers played this game without junior forward Vaughn Allen, a 2013 ECC All-Conference First Team selection. Allen, who started every game but one this season and averaged 15.5 points and 8.7 rebounds, was on the bench but did not enter the game at any point.
The Pioneers appeared to have a difficult time compensating for the loss of Allen as the defense was noticeably impacted and on offense the floor was less spread out. For the entirety of the game, the Pioneers essentially used a six-man rotation. The starters along with freshman guard Emile Blackman consisted of the lineups that head coach Chris Casey slotted into the game. Not having Allen in the game further hurt a team that was already lacking depth.
For Dowling, junior guard Leon Taylor was the difference in the game as he buried the deciding shot in the final seconds and finished the game nailing five of his seven shots from beyond the arc. He led all scorers with 21 points.
The final score may indicate that it was a tight game, but Dowling completely controlled the game from the start. Dowling was much more efficient in three-point percentage than LIU Post. The Golden Lions went 12-25 (48 percent) from beyond the arc, while the Pioneers only shot 4-14 (29 percent). In addition, the Pioneers could not capitalize when they went to the free-throw line. The Pioneers were 16-26 (62 percent) from the charity stripe. On the other hand, the Golden Lions did not get to the line as often but nearly made as many attempts as they shot 12-13 (92 percent).
One of the most eye-popping statistics in this game was the assists by each team. The Golden Lions dished out 19 assists and played to win as a team. The Pioneers were unable to get into a rhythm offensively and had seven assists as a team for the game. There was too much one-on-one, isolations and lack of team continuity to be able to get a win over the Golden Lions.
For the Pioneers, senior guard Billy Butler led the squad in scoring with 14 points. Senior guard Tobin Carberry and sophomore forward Tyuan Williams each added 13 points, but it was not enough to overcome the attack of the Golden Lions.
With the loss, the Pioneers’ season has come to an abrupt end. They needed to win the ECC Tournament to be able to enter the NCAA Tournament. The Pioneers end the 2012-2013 season with an 18-9 record.
The victory by Dowling ends a run of six consecutive appearances in the title game of the ECC Men’s Basketball Championship by the Pioneers. Also with the win, Dowling becomes the first No. 6 seed to reach the conference semifinals in the current tournament format.