Lions defeated by Beavers on senior night

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Coach Bill Curley (left) poses with Jack O'Connor (No. 4), Ben Holding (No. 32), and their family members during the pregame ceremony. Photo credit: Rachel Culver

By Kayla Buck

The men’s basketball team lost to Babson College on Wednesday by a score of 92-77 on its senior night.

The Brown and Plofker Gym roared before the game tipped off as senior guard Jack O’Connor and senior forward Ben “Benny Buckets” Holding took their home court for the final time in the regular season.

Holding came into this match with 96 games played in his four-year career with the Lions. In that time, he scored nearly 450 points, grabbed over 300 rebounds, totaled 100 assists, recorded 75 steals, and blocked 45 shots.

“He came in, and he just hustles,” head coach Bill Curley said in an interview. “He plays his role, he does his thing and doesn’t complain, and you can count on him. He shows up every day, and he’s really had a fantastic year coming at the end of last year where he was a major contributor and getting us that championship and putting us into this winning side.”

Coming to Emerson as a second-semester freshman, O’Connor’s achievements in joining the 1000 point club and maintaining a high free throw percentage helped make his time at the college memorable.

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“I really have enjoyed my last three years here,” O’Connor said in a post-game interview. “I’ve made a lot of memories and a lot of friendships that will last a long time. It’s been a blessing to play for two sets of such great coaches.”

As a junior, O’Connor helped lead the team to its first New England Women and Men’s Athletic Conference Championship and first National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament bid, earning him the NEWMAC Tournament Most Outstanding Player Award. Playing in 80 games and starting in 70, O’Connor accumulated over 1,300 points, nearly 500 rebounds, and shot over 83 percent from the free-throw line.

“Jack O’Connor’s been a huge apart of this success and building this team into a championship NEWMAC program,” Curley said. “He’s been a huge success here and a big cornerstone of the building process.”

Sophomore center Jarred Houston scored the first two points of the game 20 seconds in, and Holding followed quickly with two more.

With less than ten minutes left in the first half, the Beavers narrowed the lead due to inconsistent shooting from the Lions. The Lions held a 23-17 advantage before the Beavers took the lead with under five minutes left, and the Beavers led 40-37 going into halftime.

Geoffery Gray ’19 received his 2019 Championship ring and official induction into the 1000 point club at halftime.

Gray declined to comment.

“It was great to have him back and give him that piece of hardware that he earned and worked for with his blood and sweat,” Curley said.

Gray’s career at Emerson concluded with 1,662 points, 791 rebounds, 347 assists, and 106 steals. Since graduating, Gray signed to play professional basketball in Israel at Hapoel Eilat.

Both teams shot under 50 percent in the second half. Babson benefited from committing less turnovers, and they shot 100 percent of their free throws.

“I thought we had a good game plan going in,” Curley said. “They made some shots, we broke down defensively a little bit, and then we just couldn’t make the stops when we had to.”

Heading into the final week of competition, Curley said the team will readjust and play to the best of their abilities.

“We got to find a way to regroup,” Curley said. “We’ve been there, we know what we have, and we just have to figure out how to play together with a little more sense of urgency and just clean it up for next Wednesday.”

The Lions play The United States Coast Guard Academy on the road on Saturday, Feb. 22, at 1 p.m.