The Huskies fell short of a nine-game winning streak in a heated match against the New Jersey Institute of Technology March 2 at Fleisher Athletic Center in New Jersey, losing 69-58.
The Huskies set the game in motion with a strong offensive drive, scoring 11 out of 28 field goal attempts, a 39.3 percent accuracy rate during the first half compared to NJIT’s 24.1 percent.
“We were playing aggressive and moving the ball well,” senior guard Anthony Hill said. Hill scored 13 points during the game.
A few fouls were called against the Huskies, allowing NJIT to close a 17-point gap and tie the game at the end of the half 26-26.
The second half was a back-and-forth match with neither team taking a significant lead until the Huskies became riddled with fouls. NJIT shot 16 of 23 free-throw attempts, taking the lead at the end.
With a large number of fouls and substitutions, the Huskies were shuffled throughout the second half, changing the chemistry of the team on the court.
Head coach Ron Cottrell said the team knew that winning was not going to be easy. Hill said that to prepare for the game, the Huskies had one strategy: focus.
“We try to focus on ourselves and make sure we do what we need to do,” Hill said. “We didn’t worry about the other team.”
Cottrell said one factor in this loss was the crowd of 1500 during the game, leaving only standing room on the bleachers. He added that the game was also NJIT’s Senior Night, leaving emotions and stakes high.
“They were playing on their home court with their crowd, playing for a conference championship,” Cottrell said. “It was a tough environment to play in.”
Even though he thought NJIT brought their A-game, freshman guard Rob Lewis said the Huskies continued to fight until the end and stayed together when the game got rough. Lewis scored a career high of 16 points, which led the team.
“We stayed together and kept fighting through adversity,” Lewis said. “We kept playing as a team.”
The Huskies competed strongly throughout the whole game, Cottrell said, a commendable feat for a game with a fired up crowd.
“It would have been very easy in that environment to not step up to the challenge,” Cottrell said. “but our guys stepped up.”
The Huskies Senior Night is March 9 in Sharp Gym against Chicago State.