Men’s basketball loses thriller to Bridgewater State 81-79

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Photo: Beacon Archive

Graduate student and guard Jarred Houston goes up for a lay-up.

By Jordan Pagkalinawan, Staff Writer

The Emerson men’s basketball team was defeated by Bridgewater State on Wednesday night in a competitive thriller, 81-79—the team’s second consecutive loss by one basket.

Dropping a Saturday match against Tufts University, the Lions entered the Bobbi Brown and Steven Plofker gym looking to bounce back but were unable to pull ahead of the Bears.

The Lions won the opening tip and got on the board first with a layup by senior forward Ben Allen, but Bridgewater State buried a three to answer, which became a common theme throughout the evening with 12 triples made.

Not much separated the two teams for the first five minutes of the half, with no team leading by more than five points. The Lions jumped out to a 16-9 lead at the 14-minute mark thanks to buckets from graduate students guard Nate Martin and center Jarred Houston. 

Bridgewater State rallied to tie the game at 16 with 11:45 to go, and proceeded to deliver an onslaught of threes as part of a 11-0 run that forced Head Coach Bill Curley to call timeout with 10:44 remaining. The Bears led 27-18.

“We were walking through the field looking a little lost,” Curley said. “I thought they came out and got themselves back into the game.”

Emerson changed their tune coming out of the timeout, erasing Bridgewater’s nine-point lead and tying the game at 30 after a triple from senior guard James Beckwith and taking the lead off a three from sophomore Trevor Arico. The Lions held the lead at halftime, entering the locker room 39-32.

The Lions defense was pivotal to their first half comeback, as they forced nine Bears turnovers and earned eight points off their opponent’s mistakes. They also tallied 20 team rebounds, 10 assists, and five steals.

Bridgewater State opened the second half with a layup and a three to cut the lead to 39-37. Bridgewater State eventually regained the lead with a three-pointer at the 17:30 mark, and maintained it as the Lions played catch-up.

Threes from graduate guard Sean Coman and Arico cut the lead to one, 63-62, with 6:40 to play. Houston recorded two blocks but Emerson was unable to capitalize. After a Bridgewater layup and a Martin triple the game was knotted up at 65 with 3:45 to go. The tie wouldn’t last long, as the Bears immediately got a layup on the other end. 

Bridgewater started to pull away but a resilient Emerson team fought for every point. Curley called a timeout with 39 seconds to go. Returning to the court Houston forced a turnover which Martin put up a three to close the gap to 78-76 with 26 seconds left.

The Bears were sent to the line shortly after, and drained one of two free throws despite roars from Lions fans. 

Beckwith buried the game-tying three with 13 seconds left, and Bridgewater State hit a layup with three seconds to play. With a chance to win the game, the Lions wound up in a mad scramble for the ball, being unable to gain possession and call a timeout. The final buzzer sounded, and Emerson fell 81-79.

Houston finished with 12 points, 17 rebounds, five assists, and six blocks. Martin racked up 22 points, three assists, two steals and two blocks. Beckwith finished with 15 points—including three triples—while Arico had 12 points on four threes.

In spite of individual success, Curley pointed to the team’s execution as an area that must be improved.

“[The players] gotta decide if they want to be a good team or if they just want to walk around,” Curley said. “At this level, if you’re just going to walk and not be crisp or sharp with your cuts, you’re not going to have a chance.”

Martin was encouraged by the team’s resilience.

“We showed that we have the ability to respond, but we just have to be smarter and tighten some things up,” he said.

Coming off of the team’s second loss at the buzzer, Martin said the team must play together and figure out how to close out games.

“We definitely have a lot of learning to do from these losses,” Martin said. “We’ve got to be smarter and mentally sharper, even the veteran guys..”

Curley emphasized that even with the talent on the roster, actions speak louder than words.

“We have the talent to be very good,” he said. “It’s not enough to say that, it’s not enough to read about it. You have to go prove it.”