On the heels of a tight 80-74 victory against Rutgers-Newark on Wednesday, the William Paterson men’s basketball team (7-3, 4-1 NJAC) looked to extend their four game win streak–doing so with a 80-71 win over Stockton University (4-3, 3-2 NJAC)
In the first half, the matchup between the Pioneers and Ospreys was fairly close. At the start of the game Stockton’s defensive scheme included a full court press that would leave inside protection vulnerable, leaving room for the Pioneers to penetrate the key, allowing them to get off to a 7-0 start. Stockton responded with an 11-2 scoring run that suddenly made the traveling spectators erupt with energy. The Ospreys fed off of this energy throughout the duration of the first half until the Pioneers hit consecutive three-pointers to take a 34-26 lead and an eight point cushion that would help establish a 37-30 lead going into halftime.
In the opening minutes of the second half Stockton visibly heightened the intensity of their full court press defense giving early struggles to Pioneers by attaining five steals and forcing seven points off of turnovers for the half. Stockton shortened the lead down to two points, but junior forward, Myles McLeod gave the response the Pioneers needed by hitting two mid range jump shots, keeping the Pioneers lead at a multiple possession distance. Similar to his first half performance, the junior forward and the team’s leading scorer Sean Smith accounted for the majority of the scoring load with 13 second half points. At the 10 minute mark of the second half junior guard Sajimir Asani found Smith in transition for a critical three point shot that would give the Pioneers a 13 point lead, and give the team sense of comfort that was strong enough to lead them to victory.
The referees made a series of controversial blocking calls and traveling violations, which resulted in the momentum of the game getting interrupted with both teams remaining scoreless deep into the second half.
The calls caused the crowd to get rowdy enough were some spectators jeered at the officials. Some calls were controversial enough for head coach Brian Chapman to humbly admit that they even caused him to be “pretty emotional [himself].”
Chapman, with over twenty seasons of coaching experience tried to keep himself and the team indifferent on some calls with the mindset of “if [they] complain about last play, [they] would miss [opportunities] the next play.” With coach Chapman maintaining this mindset it helped the team focus on executing the end of the game.
After logging 38 minutes of playing time, Smith lead all scorers with a season-high 35 points, converting on 5-9 three point attempts while shooting a near perfect percentage from the line with 14-15 free throws made. McLeod notched a double-double with 10 rebounds and 15 points on an efficient 7-9 shooting. Sophomore guard Justin Lingat came off the bench with key rotation minutes with eight points and four rebounds, while junior guard Anthony Uribe got in foul trouble early but was able to give Stockton’s ball handlers trouble with three steals.
The Pioneers will look to extend their winning streak to six games as they host Rowan University (5-3, 2-3 NJAC) on Wednesday, December 11 at 8 p.m.