By LJ VP LaFiura – 1851 Contributor
The men’s and women’s basketball programs are back for their first full seasons since before COVID-19.
The men’s team’s first game was also their home opener. They outscored their opponent after trailing 43-34 at the half but fell short, losing 86-78. EJ Day led the team with 25 points. Next, the men’s team traveled to Babson, who held a narrow lead late, who handed the Lasers their second loss, 70-67. Much of the team’s late play came from Kevin Nunez, who scored 17 in the second half.
“We were trying to figure out whose role was what,” said Nunez. “We’re trying to figure out what to do to win.”
Union College came next on the men’s road trip. The men held a narrow 42-39 lead on the Dutchmen at half after Day led the team with 20 minutes played and 17 points. In the second half, the Lasers to outscored Union 36-27 for their first win, 78-66. Day led the team in scoring this time out with 28 points and 5 assists. The Lasers grabbed 16 more rebounds than Eastern Nazarene in their next game and won 83-75. Vanderhorst led the team with 21 points and 13 rebounds in 39 minutes.
So far the men’s team has a 3-2 record, but all five games have been non-conference and don’t affect their GNAC standing. Nunez sees no reason his team won’t compete for a GNAC championship, especially with first-year’s like Conan McCusker on their side.
“He a solid shooter, he understands his role, and he understands what he has to do to win,” said Nunez. So far this season, McCusker is averaging 6 points per game (PPG) and 2.8 rebounds per game (RPG).
The women’s team was faced with a tough matchup against Coast Guard in their season opener. Coast Guard’s 19-3 run to end the first quarter set the tone for the game as the women fell 93-48. Juju Nealy led the team in scoring with 21 points and five steals.
“We kind of expected that they were going be a tough one to beat, so we were just trying to make sure that we were doing everything that we learned in the past month,” said senior Marie Zampano.
The women’s next game came in the NAC/GNAC Challenge at the UMaine-Farmington. Trailing by 15 at the end of the third quarter, they made up some ground but dropped the game 81-70. Meg Carroll led the team with 21 points and 15 rebounds. Carroll was an impact player again against UMaine-Farmington, scoring 26 in a 69-57 loss.
Zampano also feels the women’s team should compete for a GNAC title due to the combination of valuable returning players like Carroll and Brooke Damboise with promising freshmen like their point guard Nealy.
“We really didn’t have a point guard before this that we could rely on,” said Zampano. “She’s just someone that’s a steady player and wants to win.”
The women’s team picked up their first win of the season against Northern Vermont-Johnson 76-59 on November 30. Carroll continued her impressive campaign notching 39 points and 20 rebounds. The first stat was a single-game team high.
As both teams look towards their conference schedule, the women will have two more games this semester, both at home. Meanwhile, the men have three games remaining, with their last being a home game against Dean College.