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Pioneers Suffer First ECC Loss

David Otero

The men’s basketball team is no longer undefeated in East Coast Conference play this season after falling 88-86 on the road to the University of Bridgeport Purple Knights (13-8) on Saturday, February 4th. In the second half, the Pioneers (15-5) led by as many as 15 points but were unable to hang on for the win. Senior guard Stefan Bonneau’s game-high 31 points were not enough to propel the Pioneers to an eighth consecutive win.

In a game that featured 10 tie scores and 12 lead changes, the Pioneers had the upper hand early, leading 46-39 at the end of the first half. The Pioneers had the advantage in getting to the free-throw line, shooting 9-12 from the charity stripe. At the same time, the Pioneers defense did a great job of not allowing any attempts for the Purple Knights from the free-throw line through the first 20 minutes of action. In addition, the Pioneers showed why they are the most efficient team from beyond the arc in the ECC by shooting 5-7 from three-point range.

However, the second half was a different story, as, just minutes into the half, the Purple Knights went on a 12-0 run to narrow the deficit to only three points. The Pioneers had no answer to stop the points being scored in the paint by the Purple Knights. In the second half, the Purple Knights scored 38 points in the paint and totaled 62 points for the game. On the other hand, the Pioneers were held to 24 points within the paint.

The Purple Knights also had 12 fast break points in the second half, while the Pioneers did not have a single bucket in transition. The Pioneers could not come away with a victory despite finishing 12-21 from behind the three-point line and attempting twice as many free-throws (30-15) as the Purple Knights.

The Purple Knights had four players finish in double-figure points, led by junior guard Hakeem Rodriguez, who finished with 22 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. The Pioneers also had to deal with junior guard Darian David who is currently second in the ECC, averaging 20.3 points per game. David finished with 21 points on 8-15 shooting from the field.

The ECC’s leading scorer, Stefan Bonneau, finished with 31 points on 10-26 shooting. Bonneau was in rhythm from beyond the arc all game long, nailing seven of his 11 attempts. Sophomore forward Vaughn Allen finished with 20 points on an efficient 7-11 from the field and hauled in five rebounds. Senior guard Terry Coleman filled up the stat sheet, putting up 14 points, including 4-5 from beyond the arc, four rebounds, five assists and four steals.

With the loss, the Pioneers’ overall record moves to 15-5, and their ECC record now stands at 9-1. They will look to get back in the win column on Wednesday, February 8th, at home against the Mercy College Mavericks (3-18), with tipoff set for 7 p.m. The last time these two teams met on January 11th, the Pioneers cruised to a 108-74 victory on the road.

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