Men’s basketball defeats Worcester State 80-72 for second straight win

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Photo: Danny Kennedy

Graduate center Jarred Houston makes a layup

By Jordan Pagkalinawan, Staff Writer, Sports

Fresh off a dominant win over Plymouth State, the Lions continued the momentum with an 80-72 win over the Worcester State Lancers at the Bobbi Brown & Steven Plofker Gym this past Dec. 3.

The Lions won the opening tip and were soon in a back-and-forth with the Lancers.  After two straight blocks and a defensive rebound from graduate student Jarred Houston, senior guard James Beckwith stole the ball and made a layup that gave the Lions a 8-4 lead with 16:30 remaining in the first half.  

Worcester eventually closed the gap, taking a 13-12 lead off a four-point play. The Lions quickly reclaimed the game eight seconds later thanks to a three-pointer from Brendan McNamara. Ten gritty minutes of play later, the Lions were up 36-27 with 3:34 remaining in the first half, but the Lancers weren’t backing down and stormed back to just one point, 38-37.

The Lions were aggressive from the jump, shooting 44% from the field. They also had eight assists, eight points off of Worcester turnovers, 11 defensive rebounds and six blocks—all of the latter courtesy of Houston.

The Lancers started the second half with the ball, sinking two free throws off a foul from Houston to take a 39-38 lead. The Lions missed their first three three-point attempts of the half, going 2-13 from deep with 17 minutes left.  Senior forward Ben Allen made two free throws with 16:35 left to cut Worcester’s lead to one. Following a Lancers layup, McNamara buried a triple with 15:30 left to tie the game at 43. 

An Allen steal led to a Beckwith jumper that gave Emerson the lead, inspiring a 9-2 run including a Beckwith three from the NEWMAC logo with 13:30 left. Worcester completed a three-point play with 12:34 to go, and Coman buried a corner three in response. 

Houston signed, sealed, and delivered a poster jam with 12 minutes left off of a no-look dime from Beckwith. The Lions led 59-50 and continued to maintain their double-digit lead. Houston’s putback layup gave him 19 points while McNamara and Worcester went shot for shot on ensuing possessions, as the first-year guard tallied his 18th point with a jumper at the five-minute mark. 

The lead held up for the Lions as they captured the 80-72 victory off the back of two double-digit performances. Houston stuffed the stat sheet with 24 points, nine rebounds, eight blocks and six assists. McNamara tallied 18 points along with five rebounds and three assists; Beckwith finished with 15 points, five rebounds and one assist; and Coman had his third consecutive double-digit game with 11 points.

Head coach Bill Curley said Martin and McNamara were catalysts for the team’s energy.

“Nate and B-Mac got off to a great start with how aggressive they were in our zone [defense]. [They] really brought a lot of energy, and the other guys picked up off of that,” he said.

Saturday’s performance was McNamara’s second consecutive game, tallying 18 points as the first-year impacted the team.

“My teammates are giving me a lot of confidence and [I’m] just putting in work,” McNamara said. “It’s all in the preparation, day in and day out. I got guys encouraging me to be aggressive and get in the paint. I can look for my shot and then get guys other looks.”

Like B-Mac, Houston credited his performance with the team’s early paint touches.

“Guys look for me to make good entry passes into the post, and it was just my job to finish,” he said.

On top of a well-rounded performance, Curley also praised Coman’s basketball ability to read the situation on the court.

“He’s hitting shots, but more importantly, he knows when to take them and how to get to them,” he said. “He’s not just shooting to shoot, he’s shooting to score and make our team better.”

Curley also praised the team’s effort despite its poor shooting night.

“In years past, if we weren’t making shots, we weren’t playing,” he said. “These guys are sticking with it and they’re still doing things even though they’re not scoring … They’re not letting their lack of scoring define who they are as players.”

Curley noted improvements from his players from when the season started, but he said there is more to be done to reach their desired level of play

“They’ve been consistent,” he said. “The thing they have to really do is understand what’s going on—have a little bit better understanding and vision out there of what teams are doing to us, what we’re trying to do and how to execute. Once we do that, I think they’ll be a really tough team to play against.”

The Lions extended their winning streak on Tuesday night, beating Salem State in a 89-86 in a match that came down to just one possession. Houston led the way with a season-high 33 points, 13 rebounds, five blocks and four assists.

The poor shooting against the Lancers improved to 55% from the field and 58.3% from beyond the arc. Heading into the match, it was important to improve the offense and shoot more diligently.

“[We had] one bad shooting game, [but] water always evens out,” McNamara said. “There’s no reason not to have confidence in our shooting and ability to attack zones.”

The Lions’ record improved to 5-3 as they now prepare for the team’s Winter Break game against Wooster College in Winter Park, FL for the Steve Moore Sunshine Shootout on Dec. 19. The men’s basketball team is no stranger to playing away from the Bobbi, and they look to make the trip to Rollins College worth it.

“We love to be road dawgs, so we just have to handle our business [as] usual,” Houston added.