Basketball doubleheader yields wins for men’s and women’s squads


Arthur Mansavage

First-year PG Jacob Armant drives through the Fighting Scots’ defense.

By Leo Kagan and Jordan Pagkalinawan

The Emerson men’s and women’s basketball teams each secured season-opening victories Tuesday night—the men steamrolled Gordon College 95-51 and the women defeated Wentworth 71-64.

Playing back-to-back in the Bobbi Brown and Steven Plofker Gym, the Lions looked to return to winning ways, capitalizing on a strong home crowd.

Men’s team

The men’s basketball team stepped on the court first. Starting with the Gordon Fighting Scots, the Lions were hungry to climb back to the top after finishing with a devastating loss to the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in the NCAA Tournament.  

Emerson jumped out to an 11-7 lead with buckets from returning graduate student center Jarred Houston, guard Nate Martin, senior forward Ben Allen, and guard James Beckwith. They continued to add points with ease, as Martin’s two free throws and a pull-up three made it 20-10 with 10:33 minutes to go. 

Gordon got back into the game, cutting the deficit to six with 6:09 minutes remaining in the half. Beckwith helped the Lions weather the storm with two free throws and caught a pass from Allen to make an easy layup with four minutes to go.

The Lions dominated, rebuilding the lead to 43-25 at halftime. Beckwith led the way with 15 points and two threes, and Martin contributed 13 points, four rebounds and two assists.

The team played solid defense in the first, contesting shots all over the floor and earning three steals and 14 defensive rebounds.

The Lions continued to prowl in the second half, as Beckwith buried another three and first-year guard Brendan McNamara found Martin for a layup over two defenders, leading 55-29 with 16:15 minutes to go. 

Emerson refused to take its feet off the gas, outscoring Gordon 32-11 for the next nine minutes, leading 81-38 at the 7:21 minute mark. The pressure from the Lions was too much for the Fighting Scots, who fell 95-51.

With returning players making up the four of the starting five, first-years such as forward/center Asher Gardiner, point guard Jacob Armant, forward Jeff Tan, and guard Peyton Lodge have made a great impression on Head Coach Bill Curley.

“They’re working hard in practice, and they [have] a great group of veterans they’re learning from,” he said.  “They have the luxury that they can learn from these guys and not worry about life or death.”

The Lions showcased strong defense, capturing 46 rebounds, forcing 19 turnovers, and claiming nine steals during the game.

“We’re going to have nights where we don’t shoot the ball very well, but our defense has to be there,” Curley said.  “I thought the guys came out, understood our game plan and got after it. That’s what I’m most proud of.”

Martin and Beckwith had 21 points each in the opening victory, while Houston poured in 16 points and 15 rebounds. Curley liked how the three of them were unselfish and able to play off each other well.

Martin said the key to his performance was feeding off of the team’s opening night energy.

“I really just wanted to play the right way and set the right tone for the season,” he said.

The first-year McNamara tallied six points and three assists as a starter. Gaining experience from his older brother who graduated from WPI, the guard came in ready to make an impact.

“I try not to think of it as pressure, I try to see it more as an opportunity,” he said. “It’s something that I’ve earned. [I] also credit my teammates and coaches for giving me confidence that I’m ready. Naturally, you get a little pressure, but it’s just basketball at the end of the day. I’ve done it my whole life, so I’m ready for anything.”

Women’s team

The women’s team took the court shortly after, jumping out to a commanding lead early and scoring the first nine points of the game while sticking to their defensive structure. They registered four steals, two defensive rebounds, and a block before the Leopards scored their first bucket. 

Though Wentworth pushed back towards the end of the first quarter, eventually evening the score at 12, the Lions ended the frame on a high note, with sophomore guard Bianca Benson hitting a three and sophomore forward Devin Hill making a layup to pull the team ahead 17-12. 

Photo: Arthur Mansavage
Sophomore forward Devin Hill scores a layup

In the second quarter, sophomore Mackenzie Bruno opened the scoring with a layup for the Lions, who proceeded to pad their lead for most of the period. Five points from senior guard Chelsea Gibbons and four points apiece from Hill and junior guard Olivia Delsauriers propelled Emerson to a 38-19 lead. 

But at the end of the quarter, Wentworth stormed back for seven straight points to bring the score to 38-26, keeping what looked like a runaway game within reach. 

The Lions, who outscored the Leopards 21-14 in the second quarter, managed just 14 points of their own in the third. Junior guard Ella Bushee shone for the Lions, collecting half of the team’s third-quarter tallies, but could not outscore the Leopards, who logged 17 points in the third frame and ended the quarter down 52-43. Junior guard Ava Salti said she thought the team came out of the first half a little too comfortable. 

“At half-time we spoke about coming out strong,” she said. “But that’s the thing about sports, stuff just happens. I thought maybe we got a little bit complacent.”

Head Coach Bill Gould added the opposition seemed to come out more fired up, and the Lions ran into some discipline issues throughout the game registering 26 fouls on the night. 

“They have a new coach, and they’re gonna play hard,” he said. “They had a couple of kids hit a few threes and then we got just too many fouls, [which] is really what killed us.”

In the last quarter, the Lions were again outscored, this time 21-19, not enough to lose the game but enough to frustrate the team. Gould said the team will work on defense in practice. 

“We need a tremendous amount of work on [defense],” he said. “We gave up way too many points to that team.”

In the final minute of the game, the score separated the teams by just five points. A pair of free throws from Deslauriers pushed the Lions to the finish line, winning 71-64—the team’s fifth consecutive season-opening victory. Salti said the team relied on its experience to survive the late Leopards press. 

“I thought we did a pretty good job of that,” she said. “Just continuing moving forward when we thought things could have went better for us. That’s how we got the win.”

Gould took a less optimistic position. When asked what was essential to the win, his answer was blunt. 

“We scored more points than they did,” he said. “That’s about the only key.”

Moving forward

The women’s team will return to the court and attempt to tighten up their play on Thursday, when they face Colby-Sawyer College on the road, while the men’s team continues their homestand on Saturday against Tufts at 1 p.m.