Basketball warms up the court after year-long hiatus

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Photo courtesy of Tyler Wells

Inside of Charger Gymnasium, West Haven, Nov. 14.

Joe Klaus, Sports Editor

A turn of the seasons has opened the door for the Chargers men’s and women’s basketball teams to take center stage and open up their winter campaigns.

Both teams were tabbed second in the Southwest division in the Northeast-10 Preseason Coaches’ Poll and behind the top-ranked Adelphi University Panthers by one voting point. The poll was close, with the men’s team grabbing three votes behind Adelphi’s six and the women taking four.

This is the first time basketball will be on the court since March 2020 and each team returns core members along with the addition of talented newcomers.

The New Haven men’s team returns with the backcourt duo of graduate student Derrick Rowland and senior Quashawn Lane as key playmakers. Rowland, Lane and junior forward Davontrey Thomas accounted for 40% of the Chargers scoring in the 2019-20 season. Thomas also grabbed 143 rebounds, good for second on the team.

Accompanying the trio of Rowland, Lane and Thomas, the team welcomes a pair of Division 1 transfers, graduate student Nick Crocker from Bryant University and sophomore Tavin Pierre Philippe from Stony Brook University. Senior center Majur Majak, standing at a tall 7-foot-2, is expected to be crucial to the Chargers’ success. The Saint Peter’s University transfer will guard the paint for the Chargers and look to contribute offensively after a 2019-2020 season that saw him lead the Peacocks in shooting percentage at 58.3%.

The men opened up their season on Friday at the College of Staten Island, pulling away in the second half with a 81-50 victory. Thomas paced the Chargers with 31 points and 10 rebounds, the third double-double of his career. They then faced D’Youville College, dominating with a 101-52 win. Once again, Thomas led the team in scoring while senior forward Antonio Lopez added 21 of his own.

The women bring back four of their top five scorers and starters from the 2019-20 season led by captains Luzdali Ocasio, Brie Pergola and Camryn DeBose. The team also welcomes the new faces of transfer students Briana Van Cleaf, a junior forward from the New York Institute of Technology and junior guard Marigona Bacaliu from Concordia University, alongside freshmen Charlotte Bassett and Bianca Pendleton.

Women’s basketball Head Coach Debbie Buff remains at the helm for the Blue and Gold and is eager for the season.

“This squad should be fun to watch,” she said. “We’ve worked hard throughout the preseason and the team is progressing every day. As always, our team identity is focused on multiple defenses and playing a disciplined brand of basketball. We are ecstatic about the challenges that await.”

The Chargers opened up on Saturday as they faced Bloomfield College, taking home a strong 63-37 win. DeBose and Pergola led the team with 15 and 13 points, respectively, while junior forward Aurora Deshaies hauled in 12 rebounds. They followed this up with a 76-74 buzzer-beating win against Georgian Court University, as Deshaies tipped in a missed shot as the clock hit zero.

Both teams return to Charger Gymnasium on Nov. 23 to begin their home campaigns as they host Pace University. The women tip off at 5:30 p.m., and the men at 7:30 p.m.