Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Men’s basketball wins home opener, falls at Suffolk for 2-3 start

Riley Goldman
Senior guard Trevor Arico (5) shoots against Salem State on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023.

The Emerson men’s basketball team began non-conference play on Nov. 10. They came out of a weekend tournament with a 1-1 record—beating host Colby behind sophomore guard Brendan McNamara’s 39 points before losing to Colby-Sawyer the day after. They then fell to Tufts on Nov. 14, 73-52.

Hungry for redemption, the Lions roared into their home opener on Nov. 18 against the Salem State Vikings, winning 75-69.

Emerson struggled in the opening minutes, falling behind 7-2 with 18:39 remaining. They eventually got within three, 9-6, and tied the game with a triple from sophomore guard Jacob Armant at the 14:35 mark. After a Vikings triple to regain the lead, Armant drained his second three with 12:45 remaining. McNamara buried a three to give Emerson a 17-16 lead with 11:22 left. Interior buckets from senior guard Trevor Arico, Gardiner and McNamara gave the Lions a seven-point cushion, leading to a Vikings timeout at the 9:18 mark.

Sophomore guard Jacob Armant (3) shoots a three against Salem State on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023. (Riley Goldman for The Beacon)

Salem State got within four, 23-19, off of free throws with nine minutes left. However, Emerson separated themselves in a big way, thanks in large part to Arico. His triple put Emerson up 28-19 with 7:37 left. The Vikings nailed a jumper with 7:14 to go in the first half. From then on, the Lions were clicking, going on a 13-0 run spearheaded by two Arico triples. The Lions led 41-21 with 3:26 left. The Vikings could not recover from Emerson’s fiery offense, which powered the purple and gold to a 43-29 lead at halftime.

Arico had 16 points at the break, making four of his five three-point attempts. Gardiner made his presence known on both ends, recording 12 points, six rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block. The Lions shot 44% from the field and 50% from distance. They also scored 11 points off of turnovers and 16 points in the paint.

The Lions’ momentum continued in the second half, scoring quickly off of a reverse layup by Gardiner. They eventually built up another big lead, as a three by junior guard Lucas Brenner put them up 51-36 with 15 minutes remaining. Salem State cut into that deficit, however, trailing 53-46, with 12 minutes to go. Armant found Gardiner for an easy layup with 11:23 left, and first-year forward Guillermo Gasset-Ruiz euro-stepped his way to the basket at the 9:25 mark. The Lions led 57-46.

Emerson held onto a double-digit lead until the 4:24 mark, when the Vikings drained a three. That deficit soon dwindled to three, 65-62, with 1:31 remaining. The Lions sustained their lead at the line, as Arico drained a pair of free-throws to give himself 26 points and Emerson a 69-62 advantage with 56 seconds to go. Gardiner’s made free-throws extended the lead to nine with 42 seconds left. A few more free throws from McNamara, Gasset-Ruiz and Gardiner secured the victory for the Lions, who took care of business at Brown-Plofker with their second win of the season.

Arico’s 26 points on 7/14 shooting led the Lions, while Gardiner earned a double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Gasset-Ruiz and McNamara tallied nine points apiece, while Armant recorded six points and six assists off the bench. The Lions shot 41% from the field, 36% from three and 83% from the free-throw line.

Head Coach Bill Curley was impressed by the team’s group effort.

“I thought they were focused and understood how to attack the zone,” he said. “Against Tufts, we weren’t sure who to attack. I thought we did a much better job of who we were going to attack and [getting] in there…A lot of people don’t play zone, and [the Vikings] really extend their zone, and they have some matchup problems for us on the defensive end. Everyone who came in and the guys that prepared us in practice the day before made a huge difference.”

He also touched on Arico’s impact and his talent as a perimeter threat.

“We know he’s got the ability to shoot,” he said. “He hasn’t finished the way I think he wants to and he’s supposed to, and we know he can. That’s why we’re telling him, ‘Keep shooting it.’ But really, it came down to Jacob, Brenner and Asher and guys that were getting him open and finding him…All [Arico] had to do was catch and shoot, but he got to the right spot, and he put it in.”

Arico praised the team’s efforts on following the game plan.

“Lucas [Brenner] did a great job in the middle of catching it, squaring up and finding guys on the outside,” he said. “We were able to hit shots in the first half, go up, and we just never looked back.”

He also mentioned the group’s quick maturity through the first four games.

“In the first week and a half of the season, we’ve already had a heck of a lot of different experiences,” Arico said. “We’re just ready, keep getting better every day, and hopefully keep winning games.”

Emerson trekked to Suffolk in a Tuesday night “Clash of the Common” and lost 87-73. The Lions trailed by as many as 20 in the first half, staring at a 45-28 deficit at halftime. Emerson managed to chip away at Suffolk’s large lead in the second half. Arico’s triple at the 11:46 mark made it a 57-50 ball game. Still, the Rams separated themselves with timely buckets down the stretch, with the Lions struggling to keep up.

Armant led the Lions with 19 points off the bench, along with six rebounds and two assists. McNamara tallied 17 points, three rebounds, three assists and one steal, while Arico’s 11 points rounded out the top three Emerson scorers. As a group, the Lions struggled from the field, nailing only 38% of their shots but making nearly 37% of their three-pointers and 90% of their free throws.

Following the loss, Curley hopes the team realizes, “We’re not good enough if we don’t play hard.”

“We have to think and see things and not just run to spots,” he continued. “We’re letting if we make a shot or not dictate how we play. On top of that, you’re not executing because you’re not getting the ball where you need to get it.”

Still, Curley was encouraged by the fact that his team got the deficit to single digits late in the second half.

“We were down 17 at the half and could get it under seven with a lot of time left in the game, I thought that was pretty good,” he said. “That’s all positive, but you can’t dig yourself into a hole and expect to come [out of] it. You just gotta keep playing.”

“That’s just a young team not understanding how to play basketball right now,” Curley continued. “We’re like Bambi on ice with our legs going every which way, our game going too fast. We’re seeing one thing and trying to get our own shot instead of just playing basketball. That’s expected of a young team, and if they come out and play hard, we’re going to be alright.”

After Thanksgiving, the Lions get back into action at Albertus Magnus on Sat., Nov. 25, at 12:00 pm.

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About the Contributor
Jordan Pagkalinawan
Jordan Pagkalinawan, Managing Editor
Jordan Pagkalinawan (he/him) hails from Burbank, California, and is the Beacon’s Managing Editor for news and sports. A junior journalism student with a minor in Sports Communication, Jordan previously served as the Kasteel Well Bureau Chief, sports editor, and staff writer. Outside of Emerson, he has interned with the CBS Sports Editorial team and currently writes for Last Word on Sports and YRMedia. When Jordan isn’t working on a story, you will find him either playing basketball, listening to music, reading multiple books, or buying a cup of coffee.

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