Men’s basketball falls in tense NEWMAC Quarterfinal

Nate+Martin+scored+19+points+in+Wednesday%27s+loss.+Photo+credit%3A+Rachel+Culver

Nate Martin scored 19 points in Wednesday's loss. Photo credit: Rachel Culver

By Ethan Mcdowell, Sports Editor

The men’s basketball team lost to the United States Coast Guard Academy on Wednesday by a score of 80-78 after a potential game-winning three-point shot fell short, ending the Lions’ season with a 14-12 record.

Coast Guard made its first three shots of the game, helping them build a 10-3 lead. Nine first half points from sophomore guard Nate Martin helped the Lions take a 13-12 lead with 13:52 left in the half.

Head coach Bill Curley said the Lions’ offense improved after they adopted an unselfish mentality.

“We just moved the ball,” Curley said in a post-game interview. “We didn’t hold it, we got to our spots, and we were just tough with it.”

The first half remained close after that point, and neither team held a lead of more than four until under the one minute mark. With 1:21 remaining in the first period, freshman shooting guard Max Davis made a three point shot to give the Lions a two-point lead. Davis scored the next eight points of the game, giving the Lions a ten-point advantage going into halftime.

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“He’s a phenomenal player and is going to be an amazing player,” sophomore center Jarred Houston said in a post-game interview. “I’m really, really happy that he gets to play with me for the next two years that I have.”

With 14:52 left in the game, Coast Guard began an 8-0 run to give them a one-point lead. Coast Guard sophomore guard Garrett Drummond scored 18 second half points on 80 percent shooting. The Lions shot 35 percent in the second half, and Houston said the team missed opportunities.

“Just off the top of my head, I know I left seven points on the board,” Houston said in a post-game interview. “I missed a layup at the end, and I missed another layup earlier in the half, so I probably left nine or ten points on the board. When you have a team as good as they are, leaving points on the board is something you can’t do, especially in a playoff game because every possession really is crucial.”

After Coast Guard missed a free throw with just over four seconds remaining, the Lions had a chance to win the game trailing by two. A three-point attempt fell short and the Lions’ defense of their 2019 New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference championship ended.

“We gave a good effort and then we just didn’t lock in the way we had to, and I think that’s something that happened all season long for us,” Curley said. “We don’t focus on the next play, and we just we just dwell or we celebrate or whatnot, and we just gotta move on. When you have a young team, you’re going to see a lot of that. “

Houston scored 15 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in the game, Martin led the team in scoring with 19, and Davis added 15 points. Senior guard Jack O’Connor grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out six assists in his final collegiate game.

Curley gave Coast Guard credit for its toughness.

“It’s ingrained in them that, you know, if they quit, people die,” Curley said. “It comes down to that, so you know they’re going to play the full 40 minutes.”

Houston said the team plans on remembering the feeling from this loss going into next season.

“I just think it’s a really big shock for us,” Houston said. “I think coming into our freshman year, we did what we wanted to do. This year, we didn’t really get done what we wanted to do. So I think we just have to just build off that during the summer. I know a lot of guys are upset right now, myself included, so it’s just remembering this feeling as we get ready for next year.”