Men’s basketball nets victory, beats Dolphins 80-74

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Photo courtesy of Tyler Wells.

New Haven’s Davontrey Thomas takes a layup against Le Moyne, West Haven, Feb. 5, 2022.

Tyler Wells, Managing Editor

The New Haven men’s basketball team turned to their depth on Saturday afternoon as they beat visiting Le Moyne College 80-74. Without a single standout, the Chargers had 10 players score to give the team a needed boost.

The game opened with neither side finding offense during the first minute of play. Le Moyne started the scoring, jumping out to an early 4-0 lead off baskets in consecutive possessions.

Graduate guard Derrick Rowland, the team’s leading scorer this season, got New Haven on the board with a layup. He followed this up with another basket to pace a slow start for the Chargers, who found themselves facing an early seven-point deficit with 13 minutes left in the half.

Derrick Rowland shoots a free throw against Le Moyne College, West Haven, Feb. 5, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Tyler Wells.)

After a timeout, the Chargers began cutting into the lead. Three pointers from junior forward Davontrey Thomas and graduate forward Nick Crocker highlighted the scoring for New Haven as they evened the game at 26.

With under a minute left in the first half and down by one, Thomas caught a pass in the corner and connected on a three to give New Haven the lead. He turned and stared at a boisterous Le Moyne bench before running back on defense. On their very next possession, junior guard Tavin Pierre-Philippe was left open from beyond the arc.

As the clock counted down from eight seconds, his shot found the bottom of the basket to give New Haven their largest lead of the game just before half. Like Thomas, he also turned to the Dolphins’ bench and punctuated a strong end to the first half.

Using this momentum, New Haven maintained their lead in the second half. The pace of play sped up as the two sides traded baskets, keeping the New Haven lead at five with 15 minutes to play.

This is when senior forward Antonio Lopez made his presence known; averaging just five points per game, Lopez made a heavily contested layup and a three in two possessions to give New Haven their largest lead of the game. A layup from senior guard Quashawn Lane and two free throws from graduate guard Sean Smith Jr. stretched the New Haven lead to a comfortable 12 points.

Smith, who has found limited time throughout the season, then made an acrobatic layup through contact as the New Haven bench came to life.

Le Moyne, however, responded with authority on the other end; a two-handed dunk cut the lead to seven as they threatened a comeback. For New Haven, Lopez made another basket before being taken out of the game.

“They can’t guard me,” Lopez said to his teammates as he returned to the bench.

The theme of role players stepping up continued even with Lopez on the bench. Crocker, who has mainly helped the Chargers off the bench, cut to the hoop for an open layup and then made two free throws in the next possession.

Though New Haven didn’t have a specific player they could turn to throughout the entire game, small moments like this helped give the team a newfound energy they have seemed to lack at times.

Le Moyne remained stout despite New Haven’s strong offensive output, cutting the lead to four with six minutes to play. Baskets from Lopez, Lane and Rowland then stretched the score to 71-63 for New Haven.

This seemed to be enough for the Chargers, who found themselves with a 10-point lead with just two minutes to play. They then turned to their free throw shooting which has been a weak spot this season, ranking third-to-last in the Northeast-10 (NE-10) at 69%.

Despite two booming threes from Le Moyne’s Payton Hudson to cut the lead to five with 15 seconds left, a free throw from Lane iced the game and gave New Haven the 80-74 win.

Lopez and Lane finished the game with 13 points to lead the Chargers, while Thomas (12) and Pierre Philippe (11) rounded out the players in double figures; Thomas also led the team with seven rebounds. Senior center Majur Majak added two blocks, a relatively quiet game for him, to add to his third most blocked shots in the country.

New Haven’s Davontrey Thomas takes a layup against Le Moyne, West Haven, Feb. 5, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Tyler Wells.)

With the win, New Haven improves to 12-7 (8-6 NE-10) while Le Moyne falls to 9-11 (5-8 NE-10). The Chargers now enter the final stretch of the regular season, with six games in 12 days. They will look to improve their conference rank, as they are third in the Southwest Division.

New Haven returns to the court on Tuesday night as they host the College of Saint Rose at Charger Gymnasium with tip-off scheduled for 7:30 p.m. More information can be found at NewHavenChargers.com.