The LIU Post men’s basketball team suffered a 75-64 loss at the hands of No. 5 ranked St. Thomas Aquinas College in an East Coast Conference matchup on Wednesday, Dec. 7 from the Pratt Recreation Center in Brookville, N.Y.
The Pioneers, now 2-7 to start the season, got off to a shaky start and trailed the Spartans 26-13 with 10 minutes left in the first half. A resurgence though by the Pioneers sparked a 14-2 run which brought them to within one point at the 5:38 mark. The run was led by the effort of two men; junior guard Kyle McLeggan and senior forward Greg Dotson. McLeggan poured in 10 points including two from behind the arc and Dotson added a lay-up and two free throws.
The Spartans, however, answered that run with a 15-3 run of their own and established a comfortable 43-30 edge going into halftime. The run culminated with a buzzer-beating three-pointer from sophomore guard Jonathon Lawton which sent the visitors into the locker room on a high note.
In the second half, the Pioneers couldn’t crack the Spartan armor and never brought the deficit within single digits. The Spartans improved to a perfect 8-0 on the season and 3-0 in conference play.
As a team, the Spartans held a significant edge in points off turnovers (27-18), and also held advantages in second chance points, bench points, and points in the paint which helped contribute to the victory. Lawton finished with 15 points and four triples, but he was out-done by teammate, junior guard Justin Reyes, who had a game-high 26 points and was a perfect 8-for-8 from the charity stripe. In addition to his scoring prowess, he also accumulated seven rebounds and three assists to go along with six steals and two blocks.
For the Pioneers, freshman forward Hall Elisias led the team in scoring with 16 and also grabbed nine boards and totaled three blocks. McLeggan, who had 10 points in a short span in the first half, finished with just 13 while senior guard Jared Hall amassed 10 points, five assists and two blocks. Head Coach Erik Smiles praised the job his incoming freshmen and transfers did, saying, “They [freshmen and transfers] are really picking things up pretty quickly and really impacting us as well.”
The Pioneers, led by Smiles, are back on the hardwood Wednesday, Dec. 14, when they travel to Westchester Community College in Valhalla, N.Y. to face conference opponent Mercy College. This season, much like the Pioneers, the Mavericks from Mercy College are off to a similar start; losing eight of their first ten games. Mercy is allowing their opponents to shoot 48 percent from the field and they allow more than 77 points a game. As the Pioneers commence a long streak of conference games, this seems like an opportune time to start a win streak. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.