Privateers desert Islanders


Photo by Stefan Muro

Men’s basketball team bounces back from homecoming heartbreak.

Stefan Muro, Reporter

After a week’s worth of rest, the Privateers resumed conference play at the Lakefront Arena hoping to get back to winning ways. Their opponent was the (10-14) Texas A&M Corpus Christi Islanders, who defeated the Privateers with a 76-61 score earlier this season. Despite of that, UNO leads the all time series 11-8 (6-2 at the Lakefront Arena.) Since the Privateers are 10-2 at home this year and the Islanders are 2-8 on the road, a win was expected for UNO.

The biggest headline going into the game was the absence of Privateer senior guard Ezekiel Charles. The team’s leading scorer tore his achilleas during Tuesday’s practice and will miss the rest of the season.

“It’s a tough, tough way for him to end his career,” said head coach Mark Slessinger. “There isn’t a better model student athlete for us and he has done a phenomenal job in leadership. He had an incredible year. It’s heartbreaking for him and this team, but you can see the strength of this team through his influence.”

Sophomore guard Troy Green said, “It’s tough, Zeke is really our brother. This whole team is really close and when he fell, we were shocked in practice that it really happened. We just have to focus on the next man up.”

In the first game without Charles, the Privateers persevered with unselfish basketball and a whole team effort rather than finding “the next man up.”

In the first half, Green led the team, scoring with seven points off the bench. Three other players also scored five points to keep the Privateers ahead. After a rather clean start to the game, traveling and charging violations seemed to plague the last 10 minutes of the half. UNO was able to capitalize off of A&M’s 11 personal fouls and 10 turnovers at the charity stripe, making eight of nine free throw attempts. In the last minute, a thunderous dunk by Scott Plaisance Jr. intensified the energy of the crowd and carried the team’s momentum into the second half with a nine point lead.

Although UNO never lost that lead, the foul-ridden second half gave the Privateers quite a scare. After having a game-high 15 point lead, 13 Privateer fouls brought the game within four points in the final minute. This Islander run was preceded by an “and1” dunk by sophomore guard Tre Gray and lead to a flagrant 2 foul called on UNO’s sophomore all-purpose guard Damion Rosser. Despite of losing Rosser to ejection, the Privateers played to their defensive strengths and managed to cause three turnovers in that last minute. After several hail Marys down the court, clutch fast-break buckets from junior guard Larry Robinson III, freshman forward Jahmel Meyers, and free throws from freshman forward Gerrale Gates put the game away. Even with all of the foul troubles, the Privateers won convincingly by 10 points. The final score was 58-68.

The Privateers’ victory was fueled by their 20 points of 24 shots at the foul line as well as 12 team assists. Gates wound up leading the team in scoring with 14 points (nine at the free throw.) Green’s 13 points contributed to the bench’s total of 32 for the game.

”The toughest team wins,” Green said. “It could be grimy, it could be pretty. If it’s grimy, it’s our game to win, because we practice like that.”

The Privateers improved to a (14-10) overall record and a (9-4) conference record, placing them third in the Southland Conference standings. They resume play this Wednesday at home against the Southeastern Louisiana Lions.