Homecoming Heartbreak


Photo by Stefan Muro

UNO Men’s Team falls to Nicholls State in final seconds of the game.

Stefan Muro, Reporter

The Lakefront Arena was loud and the crowd was electric going into Saturday’s Homecoming matchup against the Nicholls State Colonels. The Privateers entered the game on a four-game winning streak while seniors Ezekiel Charles, Scott Plaisance Jr., Tyren Harrison and Jorge Rosa were honored for their legacies just before tip-off. And of course, the homecoming court was presented at halftime. What wasn’t there to be excited about?

On the tale of the tape, the Privateers are top in the Southland Conference in steals, averaging 10.1 per game. On the other hand, the Colonels are the best three-point shooting team in the conference, averaging 10 made shots per game. Unlike most basketball games, the winner of this one would be determined at the perimeter rather than at the paint.

The first half seemed to have a promising start for the Privateers. They dominated the Colonels in the paint with 18 points,  four blocks and +8 advantage on the rebounds. It was fitting that a senior would lead the Privateer charge: Plaisance brought five points, eight rebounds and three blocks. Offensive rebounds were key to the Privateers’ early success because it provided 12 second-chance points, which was about half of the team’s total points.

As expected, Nicholls’ three-point shooters showed their perimeter skills toward the end of the half. The Colonels made 7 out of 13 three-point attempts, which eliminated the Privateers’ six-point trail and created a seven-point lead at halftime.

The intensity of the game quickly increased at the start of the second half. The Privateers reclaimed the lead within the first four minutes with a six-point surge from senior forward Charles. He, Plaisance and sophomore forward Gerrale Gates, each scored 15 points and were the offensive powerhouse for the Privateers. Despite their dominance down low, Nicholls stayed in the game with stellar three-point shooting, making 12 out of 25 shots from deep.

The game seemed to be in UNO’s hands after a second-chance bucket from Plaisance and a late free throw from sophomore guard, Damion Rosser. This gave the Privateers a two-point lead with 12 seconds left on the clock. Nicholls’ junior guard Danny Garrick drained a three-pointer with four seconds remaining and UNO needing to take the ball across the entire court. Unfortunately, a miracle shot was not on UNO’s side and the team took a heartbreaking one-point loss. The final score was 64-63.

After the game, Privateer head coach Mark Slessinger said that “It was a game of runs … we had some special runs that gave us a seven-point lead in the second half and weren’t able to stretch it out. They had a great game plan and did some really good things. In the end, we couldn’t get the stops we needed to be able to close it out and get a win.” He also commented, “We got to win these games; all the games are equal whether it’s senior day or not. We look at this as a league loss and we have a big week ahead of us.”

Despite the loss, senior center Plaisance led the Privateers with a 15-point and 11-rebound double-double with 3 blocks to compliment it. Plaisance said, “It was a really great day you know; I had a lot of family come out. It was good to see them, even though we didn’t get the result we wanted.” He also said optimistically, “We’re going to be just fine. After this game, we have a bye week. We’re going to be in the gym working every day. We’re not going to take an off day. [We] keep going and shoot for the same goal.”

The Privateers fall to (13-10) and (8-4) in conference play. They resume play against Texas A&M Corpus Christi at the Lakefront Arena on Feb. 16 after their bye week.