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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Men’s Basketball finds its fire after winning three straight

Forward+Ish+Fofana+dribbles+the+ball+during+a+previous+home+game.+Photo+by+Dong+Woo+Im+%2F+Mass+Media+Staff.
Dong Woo Im
Forward Ish Fofana dribbles the ball during a previous home game. Photo by Dong Woo Im / Mass Media Staff.

It’s been a rough season of hoops for the Beacons, but they showed that these hardships will not let them break. According to Beacons Athletics, after a seven-game losing streak, the Beacons managed to win their last three games of winter break against Plymouth State University, Vermont State University Castleton and Eastern Connecticut State [1]. 

According to Beacons Athletics, against the Plymouth State Panthers, the Beacons found themselves down eight points a little over halfway through the first half. That was when Emanuel Zayas hit his first shot of the game, which helped jumpstart a 7–0 run to get the Beacons within one [2].

Although they were never able to gain the lead, they were on the Panthers’ tail right until the end of the half, where they trailed by four, 33–29. The second half saw the Panthers lead by as much as 11 on a few occasions, but out of nowhere, a 12–2 run headlined by Alex Woolery and Fidendi Francois cut the deficit to one with about five minutes left [2].

Connor Walden gave the Beacons their first lead since the opening tip with about three minutes left to play, and from that point on, the teams went back and forth trading buckets. Down by one with less than a minute left, Walden put the Beacons ahead with a mid-range jumper. The Panthers could not regain the lead and resorted to playing the foul game, where Zayas’ free throws sealed the Beacons’ 66–64 victory [2].

A come-from-behind victory is exactly what the Beacons needed to spark their team back up again. Their defense was on point during the game, forcing 16 Panther turnovers, double what they had [2]. Next up came the Spartans which, according to Beacons Athletics, kicked off with a rather dominant first half from the Beacons [3].

The first-half lead for the Beacons was as high as 13 at one point, and eventually, they would go into halftime with the score at 36–26 in their favor. That half saw the Beacons make a very efficient 42 percent of their threes. The second half, though, saw the Spartans wake up, as they swiftly cut the lead to six and tailed the Beacons the rest of the way [3].

Before they knew it, the game was tied at 58 with less than two minutes left. Zayas put up an unsuccessful three, but Walden was fouled after grabbing the offensive rebound with a chance to take the lead. He made one of his two free throws, but that was the last time either team scored. As a result, the Beacons escaped the scary comeback with a 59–58 win, their second in a row [3].

Eastern Connecticut State and their Wolves was the last opponent the Beacons had to face before the semester started, and this game was just as exciting as the last two. According to Beacons Athletics, the Beacons were able to build a lead as large as eight during the first half, but these Wolves were pesky [4].

The Wolves formed a four-point lead right before halftime with the score at 34–30. The second half saw the two squads exchanging baskets back and forth until Bobby Joy—in his first game back from injury—helped string together the first five points of what would be a 10–0 run. The Wolves regained their footing, and all of a sudden, the game was tied 55 apiece with six minutes left [4].

The Wolves went on an 11–2 run and held a nine-point lead with two minutes left, but the Beacons weren’t done yet. Walden hit a three to make it a two-possession game, and after that, Zayas absolutely took over. He sank three straight three-pointers, including capitalizing on a massive four-point play, and the Beacons trailed 71–70 with two seconds to play [4]. 

It was going to take a miracle, and that’s precisely what happened. Francois got in the way of the Wolves’ inbound pass, and while diving out of bounds, miraculously flung the ball backward toward Hector Perez. Perez quickly turned around and splashed a fadeaway jump shot to secure a 72–71 victory as the buzzer sounded [4].

According to Beacons Athletics, the basket made up two of Perez’s five points that game, and they were undoubtedly the two most important. However, Perez’s heroics cannot overshadow the point that Zayas put on an absolute masterclass. Knocking down 31 points and 9-for-13 from long range is no joke, and the aforementioned three straight he hit in the clutch proved he was the x-factor of the game. It’s a season high for him in points and three-pointers, in what was likely the most exciting game of the year for men’s basketball [5]. 

Don’t let their record fool you, men’s basketball is getting red-hot, and they are not done yet. If they keep this caliber of play up come tournament time, a Cinderella run would not be off the table. It’s up to the Beacons whether they capitalize on this momentum or not, but the scales seem to finally be tipping in their favor, and it should be exciting to see how they continue the season.

 

Sources –

 

  1. https://beaconsathletics.com/sports/mens-basketball/schedule
  2. https://beaconsathletics.com/news/2024/1/11/back-in-the-win-column-mens-basketball-outlasts-plymouth-state.aspx
  3. https://beaconsathletics.com/news/2024/1/17/mens-basketball-mens-basketball-hangs-on-for-conference-win-over-spartans.aspx
  4. https://beaconsathletics.com/news/2024/1/20/mens-basketball-zayas-and-perez-ice-cold-as-beacons-shock-warriors.aspx
  5. https://beaconsathletics.com/sports/mens-basketball/stats/2023-24/eastern-connecticut-state/boxscore/11603

 

About the Contributors
Liam Crampton, Sports Writer
Dong Woo Im, Photographer