The men’s basketball team beat Worcester State University 99-69 in the season-opener, led by senior guard Jack O’Connor.
The Lions dominated in the first half and went into halftime leading 49-28. O’Connor’s first-half performance pleased head coach Bill Curley.
“The way O’Connor set the tone with his defense, his rebounding, communicating, getting people where they need to be helped us,” Curley said in a post-game interview. “He was tremendous out there with his leadership.”
O’Connor finished the game with 13 points, including four three-pointers and three steals.
“We just had a really good energy from the jump,” O’Connor said in a post-game interview.
Sophomore guard Trevor McLean started the game and scored the first eight points. McLean set the tone on the defensive end with non-stop hustle and effort.
“It felt great to be back,” McLean said in a post-game interview. “I’m really excited for what we have this year. It’s going to be a great season.”
Five Lions finished the game with double-digit points. Sophomore guard Nate Martin led the team with 20 points on nine of 13 shooting from the field.
“We have too many weapons,” McLean said. “I think we’re just so unselfish.”
All four of the active freshmen Lions entered the game. James Beckwith, a guard from Palo Alto, California, led the way, finishing the game with 12 points with five of five shooting from the field.
The Lions entered this game in an unfamiliar position having been ranked No. 2 in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic pre-season poll.
“We’d go into games last year and previous years with nothing to lose,” McClean said. “We have [something] to lose now.”
Curley said the team dealt with the added pressure well and stayed in a positive mentality.
“You can’t worry about what other people say,” Curley said. “We try and block out all the noise about what people say about us. We are trying to focus on what’s good for us and what’s best for us.”
The Lions play their first away game of the year against Gordon College on Tuesday, Nov. 12 at 7 p.m.