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ON CAMPUS A look at the area college sports scene

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

SCSU men's basketball team making comebacks part of the norm

NEW HAVEN — They have become the cardiac kids. The Southern Connecticut men’s basketball team has used big comebacks in the past three games, winning two of them, to climb into fourth place in the Northeast-10 Conference standings.
“The comebacks seem to be the trend,” SCSU coach Mike Donnelly said. “We’re in a good stretch and we’ve put ourselves in a good spot.”
Southern’s recent rallies have been unlikely to say the least. On Tuesday the Owls scored just 13 points in the first half at Southern New Hampshire. But, for the second straight game it overcame a double-digit deficit in the second half to pull out a 62-56 victory.
“I really wasn’t that upset with them at halftime,” Donnelly said. “I knew we only had 13 points but we were getting good shots, they just weren’t falling. I just wanted to help out with our spacing and I figured we’d make some shots in the second half.”
SCSU, which leads the NE-10 in scoring averaging 75 points, finished the second half with 49 points. The Owls (12-6, 9-5 NE-10) had three-players in double-digits led by Greg Langston with a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds. Trevon Hamlet also had 11 points, nine rebounds and two blocks and Rashamell Vereen added 11 points.
Southern knocked off Stonehill 77-74 on Saturday in a game it trailed by seven with less than four minutes to go. The game prior, SCSU rallied from 16 points down in the second half but dropped an 83-80 decision against NE-10 leading Saint Anselm.
Hamlet, an athletic 6-6 swingman, has been the catalyst for the Owls. He can rebound, defend and is among the top Division II scorers averaging 18.2 points.
“He’s the heart and soul of the team,” Donnelly said. “He’s a great kid. He’s been an anchor defensively. He just leads us in every way.”
Then there’s steady junior Greg Langston, of Stratford, who notched his second double-double of the season the past game.
“He’s unique because he’s a 6-3 guy who’s comfortable with his back to the basket,” Donnelly said.
Luke Houston came to SCSU as a prolific scorer but Donnelly has had to encourage him to shoot more at Southern.
“Sometimes he passes up some open shots but he’s taking it upon himself to become our best perimeter defender,” Donnelly said. Sophomore guard Tylon Smith fills the entire stat sheet and Vereen, a slick guard from Meriden who played for Donnelly three years ago at Post, is averaging 8.2 points and Donnelly said he’s the fastest player in the NE-10.
Donnelly hopes the second half of the schedule will be more favorable to his team. They are 7-2 on the road and 4-4 at home but he expects that mark to improve.
“Hopefully it’s a good thing that we have five games at home in the second half and after (Saturday’s game against) Bentley we have seven games against teams that we’ve already played. It’s going to be a dogfight,” he said.
Interestingly, SCSU is tied in the standings with border rival New Haven, another club in the midst of a renaissance.
“I always say it’s great for everyone involved that New Haven’s has turned their program around too,” said Donnelly, who took over a 2-25 team when he arrived at the school.
“I can’t say enough how great a job Ted (Hotaling) has done at New Haven and if we could both play meaningful games at the end of the season it’s great for the entire area of basketball.”
Southern hosts Bentley on Saturday at the Moore Fieldhouse at 3:30 p.m.

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