By:Maya Dawson, Sports Editor
The Spartans started the basketball season off with a doubleheader on November 5th, with the ladies going up against The Liberty University Flames and the men facing off against The Greensboro College Pride for this years season opener.
The men’s basketball is coming off their most successful season yet in the Division I era. This year they hope to keep up the same momentum, just with newer pieces to play with this time.
Echols Hall unveiled two new banners for NIT Tournament Participant and MEAC Regular Season Men 14-2 2018-2019, recognizing the men’s basketball’s record-breaking accomplishments from last year.
Only five Spartans returned to the program this year. With all of the new players on the team they hope to be first in the MEAC for the second year in a row.
Redshirt seniors Jermaine Bishop and Steven Whitley are the Spartans’ hope of a leadership presence within the team after losing many key pieces to either graduation and/or transfers last year.
In their matchup against Greensboro College, Jermaine Bishop got off to a hot start scoring nine of the first fifteen points scored by the Spartans in the first half, shooting 4-5 during that span.
The Spartans then went on a 34-10 run to end the first half pounding on the Pride to make it 50-26. The Pride were on a scoring drought which allowed the Spartans to keep on extending their lead.
The player of the game, Yoro Sidibe, contributed 8 points and 2 steals on the run towards the end of the first half which allowed the Spartans to have momentum going into halftime.
Even with a 24 point lead to start the second half, the Spartans didn’t let off the gas. They continued to play with a relentless attitude.
Around the 10 minute mark of the second half, the Spartans were on fire; going on a 9-0 run off of 2 turnovers. Joe Bryant Jr., Kyonze Chavis, and Kashaun Hicks each made a three in back-to-back possessions to make the crowd go wild. The Spartans were on fire and were totally unstoppable from the 3-point line hitting twelves threes all game out of 31 attempts.
Every Spartan got to see some action in the game with everyone at least playing 6 minutes and scoring at least 3 points. They were amazing offensively and defensively.
The defense was a force to be reckoned with causing 20 turnovers and only allowing the Pride to have a field goal percentage of 34.9%; with them only making 22 of their shot attempts.
The Spartans won 100-59, with the Spartans scoring an even 50 points in both halves.
Our leading scorer was Yoro Sidibe who had a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds on 7 of 12 shooting to go along with 3 steals. Steven Whitley was right behind him with 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists on 5 of 11 shooting. Jermaine Bishop and Devante Carter both had 11 points.
Eric Peaks Jr. led the Pride with 7 points and 6 rebounds.
The Spartans are now (1-0) on the season. Coming off a great win against Greensboro College.
Now let’s get to the women:
The Ladies are coming off a MEAC conference championship loss to Bethune-Cookman so they are pumped and ready for redemption this year.
They lost four key Spartans to graduation so they had to go looking for replacements who could bring the same energy as those who had left.
Dana Echols, the Spartans leading scorer with 13.1, is returning along with La’Deja James who were instrumental in their run in the MEAC tournament. Hopefully they can help some of the new Spartans who joined this year.
In their game against Liberty, Chanette Hicks had 6 points in the first quarter. It was very close to start off but the Spartans couldn’t get into a good shooting rhythm.
The Spartans started off strong in the second quarter pushing their way back into the game with them to be only down 3 points with 4:35 left. But they couldn’t contain the Flames who grew in intensity when Ashtyn Baker hit two threes and Bridgette Rettstatt scored 5 points to end the half putting the Spartans down eleven.
With us being down starting the third quarter we amped up defensively which hammered the Flames. We created 5 turnovers, with Danyael Goodhope having 2 steals. With our swallowing defense, the third quarter was the only quarter where we outscored them 16-12.
The fourth quarter was the worst, with us only scoring six points, with four of those coming from the free throw line. We were 1-15 in the fourth quarter which didn’t help us get back into the game.
Even with the hard knock defense that was being played we still couldn’t seem to get any points on the board resulting in them digging an even bigger hole. The Spartans had a 31% field goal percentage and a 3 point percentage of 7.7%. The Flames led us in field goal percentage, free throw percentage, and 3-point percentage.
The offense just wasn’t clicking, the Spartans only made one out of thirteen 3-point attempts compared to the eleven made by the Flames. We were outrebounded by 14 all together, grabbing 34 rebounds compared to their 48. Even though we had 10 steals and caused seventeen turnovers; it didn’t seem to matter because we just couldn’t get into the scoring column.
They lost to the Flames 67-48 with Chanette Hicks being our leading scorer with 18 points, 4 assists, on a 41% shooting percentage.
The Flames leading scorer was Ashtyn Baker with 19 points on 5 threes.
The women are now (0-1) on the season hoping to get back on track and gain some more momentum for the next game.
The next home game will be on Friday, November 8th for the men who will be facing Penn State Wilkes-Barre. The next women’s home game is when they face the Virginia University of Lynchburg on November 14.