Men’s basketball home opener spoiled by conference rivals

By: Gerald Lima

The Men’s Basketball team started off the season with two road wins over Swarthmore College and Stevens Institute of Technology. After trailing by 21 against Stevens, the Cougars would eventually win the game on a go-ahead three point shot by Mike Burton, which pushed the Cougars to a hot 2-0 start.

The Cougars looked to extend its record to 3-0 over Richard Stockton College in its first home game of the season. However, the Cougars were defeated by the Ospreys, losing 69-64.

“It was a tough loss but I know we will bounce back from this,” Cougars guard, Mike Burton said. “We learn from our mistakes and we will fix them so we can improve as a team.”

Tom Soulias and Burton opened the game for the Cougars knocking down back-to-back three point shots. The Cougars offense played well and its defense was efficient, creating 17 turnovers for the game.

Throughout the first half, both the Cougars and the Ospreys exchanged shots from behind the arc. Ospreys’ Josh Blamon hit three of four shots early in the game that was going back and forth, until the Ospreys took a 37-25 lead, because of a 13-0 run.

The Cougars ended the first half by cutting the deficit back to single digits, making the score 39-31 heading into the second half.

Early on in the third quarter, the Cougars created back-to-back turnovers, which cut the deficit to only seven points.

With just under 13 minutes to go in the second half, Burton made a three-point shot, making him the 31st player in school history to cross the 1000-point mark.

With one minute remaining in the game, Ali Mix made a clutch shot, with a foul shot to follow, leaving the Cougars with a fighting chance only trailing 66-64. After a free throw missed by the Ospreys, the Cougars had a chance to tie the game with a three point shot, but it failed to go down.

The Cougars played the “intentional foul” game with 25 seconds remaining, but there wasn’t enough time to make any kind of a comeback. The Ospreys made its free throws to hold its lead and a victory over the Cougars.

“We played good as a team and had our chance but we could have had done better,” Burton said.

The Cougars, Soulias led the scoring chart with 17 points, but it couldn’t top the Ospreys’ Kevin Johnson and Rameel Johnson, who combined for 32 points.

“We stayed together as a team and we are just going to take it day by day,” Assistant Coach Mike Shaughnessy said. “We fought hard all game but couldn’t get the win. We will look at film and be ready for the next game.”

The Cougars will play another NJAC game, when they host Ramapo College November 26 at 8 p.m.

“We as a team will improve and I believe we will be contenders at the end of the season. It’s still early in the season,” Shaughnessy added.

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