By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
EWING — The College of New Jersey’s men’s basketball lost their last two games by a combined six points. On Wednesday night, they would not have to deal with another close game.
“Tough game,” Lions head coach Matt Goldsmith said. “It was really physical out there. It was a little ugly, but I’m proud of the guys and how they fought through it. During the timeouts, I told them that we were going to figure this thing out. We’re not battling each other out there and we figured it out. I was proud of the guys for figuring it out.”
This is the first-time that Goldsmith defeated William Paterson in his three meetings against the team. This was also TCNJ’s first win over the Pioneers since Feb. 14, 2015 when they won 80-70, which also came at Packer Hall, under former head coach Kelly Williams.
“You always want to beat everyone you face, so losing to them twice last year hurt us,” Goldsmith said. “Both of them were difficult games, but I was hoping we would put our best foot forward and play well. If we play well, the rest takes care of itself. I’m always happy to get the W.”
It is only the second-time in the past 11 games that TCNJ has won the game in the series.
“There’s been a lot of losses to Willy P,” Eric Murdoch Jr. said. “I’ve been a part of a lot of them. It was a good game to come back and beat them, because we definitely had that on our minds. Last year, they gave it to us both times and they were both tough. We wanted to make sure we returned the favor this year.”
Murdoch Jr. helped the Lions go on an 11-0 run to put the game out of reach late in the contest. TCNJ ended the game on a 14-4 run.
“I think when we got up early, we lost our edge a little bit,” Goldsmith said. “At that moment, we got it back. We went on a really nice run to close it out. That’s what you need to do if you’re going to be a good team. You have to close out games. While it wasn’t the prettiest game, we were able to close it out.”
TCNJ led 55-50 when they went on the 11-0 run. William Paterson was as close as 50-47 when Galen Smith made a free throw.
The Lions led 35-18 at halftime. They ended the half with a 15-7 run.
TCNJ began the game with a 20-9 run.
Turell McClendon had 12 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, one block and a steal for the Pioneers. Joseph Taylor added 11 points, six rebounds, two assists, one block and four steals. Fredrik Hagbarth contributed nine points, four rebounds and a block.
Fellow starters Dapo Badmos and Smith combined for nine points. Badmos added two rebounds and two assists. Smith also contributed one rebound, two assists and two steals.
Urbine came off the bench and scored 13 points. He also had three rebounds and one steal.
Murdoch Jr. had 16 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals for the Lions. Brackett added 15 points, 12 rebounds and a block. Corey Stanford contributed 12 points, eight rebounds, five assists and one steal.
“In the first half, I was a facilitator and tried to get everyone the ball and make the right plays, as the point guard,” Murdoch Jr. said. “In the second half, the team was struggling handing the ball a little bit, so the ball’s in my hands when they tried to foul late in the game. It’s important to knock down the freebies.”
TCNJ had 13 bench points. Elias Bermudez led these players with eight points, three rebounds, one assist and a block.
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