Men’s basketball triumphs in NCAA playoffs, heads to Sweet Sixteen semifinals

On Saturday evening, Mar.4, the Stockton Men’s Basketball team triumphed against Mary Washington University. It was a tight game with the final score being 68 to 65. Mary Washington led most of the game, including the beginning of the second half.

Stockton competes against Mary Washington. Photo courtesy of Rachel Rolle.

There were some key players that kept Stockton in the game during their slow start. Freshman forward Tayvon Gaither (#20) dominated the paint, scoring in some tough moments and slowing Mary Washington’s momentum down. When the Ospreys were down by five points, Gaither(#20) drove toward the basket with confidence narrowing the gap to 26 to 29.

Some other important plays during the first half were DJ Campbell’s (#4), which resulted in a 15 to 17 score with eight minutes left. Following the next possession, Campbell(#4) got fouled behind the three-point area and makes his 3 shots, 18 to 21. The crowd roared with excitement after his additional three. He shot it contested by the defender right when the shot clock buzzer went off, 25 to 24. This lead was short-lived but it did shift the Ospreys’ momentum.

Early in the second half, Rynell Lawrence (#23) made threes in two consecutive possessions, gaining the Ospreys the lead once again, 34 to 31. The two teams continued to trade points and the lead was changed 11 times throughout the game. Two minutes and 41 seconds were left in the entire game and there still was not a clear victor, 63 to 60. Down to the last minute, Jonathan Azoroh (#1) was called to the free-throw line. 31.2 seconds left, and he made the free throw to extend the lead, 68 to 63. The game was surely over, yet Mary Washington’s player got fouled with 2.1 seconds left and made both free throws, 68 to 65. Now all they needed was a three-pointer to tie the game.

The Ospreys compete in the NCAA playoffs. Photo courtesy of Rachel Rolle.

A Stockton student spectator, Ciara Johnson, predicted what Stockton should have done: “What I would do in this situation is I would bounce it off of my teammate’s back and then just hold it. Because you don’t want a lot of space when the opponent is [playing full-court press] because then they are going to intercept the ball.”

Mary Washington did just that, a full-court press, but there was not an opportunity for Stockton players to get open. Kadian Dawkins (#0), who was inbounding the ball, called a time-out because he had not known who to pass it to. In the end, the opponent stole the ball but with one second left they could not get a decent shot up. The game was concluded and Stockton survived another round.

Coach Scott Bittner commented, “We weren’t very smart, but we played very hard so we made up for it. How are you going to prepare? I don’t know. Just try to have fun and just appreciate the fact that you get another week with five or six special guys that are leaving. And I think if you concentrate on the process, the rest takes care of itself.”