Men’s Basketball Comes Up Short, Lose 71-66

The Pioneers lost a close game to the rival Montclair State University Red Hawks

Ryan Doyle, Editor-In-Chief

The William Paterson Pioneers (10-11, 6-8 NJAC) were unable to overcome late mistakes in a 71-66 loss to the Montclair State Red Hawks (11-10, 8-6 NJAC).

The Pioneers were within three with 1:30 left when Pioneers senior guard Joseph Taylor sent a shot attempt into the stands. The crowd came alive and it looked like the Pioneers were going to be able to come back in the final minute. Montclair was able to respond with a layup from freshman forward Justin Porter.

Coming off a 40-point outing against Stockton University, Joseph Taylor wasn’t his usual self on the offensive end. He finished with 14 points, but was unable to find his stroke from behind the three-point line. Taylor still managed to put his imprint on this game. Taylor had a 6 steals and a pair of blocked shots which led the Pioneers in both categories.

Offensively, William Paterson struggled. The team shot just 36 percent from the floor and went 4-for-29 from beyond the arc. Senior guard Zach Frick 13 points and hit three of the team’s four three-pointers. Junior guard George Sapp scored 8 and sophomore Anthony Uribe had 7 points.

One of the Pioneers’ top performers was senior Richy Espinal. Espinal racked up 14 points and three steals by the final whistle. Espinal’s defense was a problem for Montclair all night. He would press up on whichever Red Hawk brought the ball up the floor and wreak havoc. With the help from his guards, Espinal slowed down a high-powered Montclair attack.

From the opening tip, the William Paterson Pioneers looked to push the tempo early. After a Montclair State miss or turnover, the Pioneers quickly ran down the court and tried to convert them into points. Although the Pioneers, had plenty of fast break chances, they had problems converting those chances.

This has been a trend this season for the Pioneers. They are typically undersized and need to use speed and quickness to beat defenses down the floor. Plus, with some talented outside shooters, they are able to rain-down outside shots. The difference was not having the shots fall from the outside on this particular night.

Even with Montclair playing strong defense on the fast break, the Pioneers were stingy on the defensive side of the ball. The Pioneers, although clearly out sized were active with their hands and poked away the ball a whopping 17 times. Which led to 21 total points off turnovers.

The offense disappeared for the Pioneers in the first half. No matter the shot, the Pioneers couldn’t make their them fall. Shooting only 30.3% from the floor. Matters were even worse from behind the three-point line. The Pioneers shot just 3-for-17 from beyond the arc after starting 0-for-9.

Still, William Paterson’s defense was able to keep them in the game as the Pioneers trailed 34-27 at the half. The half court trap the Pioneers featured worked well. Espinal along with Frick, Taylor and sophomore Peter Martinez were able to keep the game close.

The Pioneers play Rutgers- Newark (6-15, 5-9 NJAC) on Feb. 4 on the road.

The next home game will be Feb. 8 against The College of New Jersey (15-6, 11-3 NJAC).