After winning their first five games of the new year, men’s basketball lost only their second game of the season on Saturday, Jan. 11, against the Western New England Golden Bears.
The Lions got off to a slow start, making only 24.2% of their field goals in the first half. They went into halftime down eight points, 32-24. Despite outscoring the Golden Bears in the second half, ENC lost narrowly, 79-76, giving Western New England their first conference win of the year.
Head Coach Jim Aller said that the Golden Bears deserved credit for playing well, but he attributed part of Saturday’s loss to poor shooting.
“We didn’t shoot very well—our three leading scorers were 9-of-33 from the field,” Aller said. “Couple that with a team shooting 71% from the field in the second half and you have a recipe for a loss.”
“We aren’t a great offensive team—we win when we defend and get loose in transition,” he added. “It’s hard to run when you are constantly taking the ball out of your own basket.”
The Lions shot 39.3% from 3-point range in the loss, but only 34.2% from the field.
Sophomores Jeremy Wagner (Oklahoma City, Okla.) and Justin Wagner (Oklahoma City, Okla.) combined for seven of the Lions’ 11 3-pointers, totaling 22 points.
Two days earlier, on Thursday, Jan. 9, men’s basketball defeated Wentworth, 71-67, with a second-half surge.
Sophomore Eric Lynch (Alpharetta, Ga.) scored a team-high 17 points at Tansey Gymnasium.
“In the second half of the Wentworth game … we became more aggressive on offense by attacking the basket, which opened up the twins to knock down threes,” Lynch said.
Justin Wagner hit three 3-pointers in the second half, and Jeremy Wagner’s sole 3-pointer in the second half was a four-point play.
Down the stretch, coach Aller went with a small lineup—Jaylen Owens (Cleveland, Ohio), the twins, Lequan Gomes (Fairfield, Calif.), and Lynch—that clinched the victory.
“The smaller lineup is a good defensive lineup—we generate a lot of steals, which allows us to transition more, which is probably the best part of our offense,” Aller said.
The Lions stole the ball nine times in the second half, all of them coming from the small lineup.
Currently tied for second in the Commonwealth Coast Conference, the Lions, 10-2 (4-2), take on Salve Regina at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 15, at the Lahue PE Center.