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Men's Basketball: More first-half leads, but more second-half problems

Amruth Jonnalagadda

Issue date: 1/30/09 Section: Sports
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Sophomore point guard Kevin Herring had a 20-point first half, but it wasn't enough to propel the Spartans over Brandeis on Friday. The Judges entered the season ranked ninth in the nation (Div. III).
Media Credit: Shane Lu
Sophomore point guard Kevin Herring had a 20-point first half, but it wasn't enough to propel the Spartans over Brandeis on Friday. The Judges entered the season ranked ninth in the nation (Div. III).

The Spartans squandered double-digit leads in two pivotal matchups against conference opponents, failing to take advantage of a golden opportunity to be second in the UAA standings.

Despite a jaw-dropping performance by guard Kevin Herring (33 points, 10-17 shooting) against Brandeis University, the Spartans fell, 73-66, in Horsburgh Gymnasium on Provost Night in front of one of their biggest crowds of the year. Amidst the high energy of the evening, Herring scored the first 13 points for the Spartans despite all of his jump shots being contested. Reid Anderson also played a huge part in the first-half lead by scoring seven points and gave the team its largest lead, 28-12, at the four-minute mark. Coach Sean McDonnell remarked, "Our players did a great job of recognizing the hot hand in the first half against Brandeis." Brandeis, on the other hand, struggled throughout the first half, managing to score only four baskets.

But as soon as the officials resumed play in the second half, Brandeis quickly erased much of the 11-point lead via a 12-2 run. The Spartans, meanwhile, went cold from the field, missing their first eight shots of the second half. Center Rob Skuski widened the slim Spartan lead through a tip-in and a jumper, but Brandeis went on an impressive 8-0 run to take its first lead since the first minutes of the contest.

After Brandeis regained the lead, neither team could assert its own tempo on the game for the next eight minutes, resulting in 13 lead changes. The Judges kept themselves in the game by consistently reaching the free-throw line, converting 21 of 26 in the second half. In fact, Brandeis's aggressive play allowed the team to score nine out of their last 13 points from the line.

Two days after the disappointing loss to Brandeis, the Spartans faced another conference woe but once again fell short, losing 79-73 to New York University at home. In contrast to the game against Brandeis in which Herring was the only double-digit scorer, there were four Spartans with double figures, including Steve Young (16 points), Eric Duerr (15), Reid Anderson (15), and Bryan Erce (12).

Once again, the Spartans got off to a quick start and led 39-22 at the intermission. On script, the Spartans suffered a scoreless drought of over three minutes in the second half, which allowed NYU to grab the lead. In regard to the Spartans' inability to hold leads, McDonnell said, "We have been winning at halftime of all five of our UAA games. We need to concentrate on playing a complete game."

NYU's field goal percentage spiked from the first half (24.0 percent) to the second (57.7 percent), while the Spartans were held to just 11-34 shooting after the intermission. McDonnell said, "We have been playing great defense and running efficient offense during the first half of every UAA game. That type of production needs to take place over the entire 40 minutes of every game for us to be successful." The team is now 5-11 with a 2-3 record in the UAA. They are back in action tonight at 8 p.m. against Rochester.
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