Griffon Men’s Basketball Season Opener
The Griffon men’s basketball team dropped their season opener at the Small College Basketball Hall of Fame Classic at the Civic Arena, losing a hard-fought overtime game 83–77 to the Embry-Riddle Eagles.
The Griffons started off the game on fire, taking a lead in the first half. They were led by junior point guard JaQuaylon “Q” Mays. Mays was getting to the rim with ease and finding open teammates for open shots. Mays assisted on a highlight play to sophomore JaRon Thames early in the first half. Thames rose up and dunked over an Eagle defender to electrify his team and the crowd. Foul trouble struck the Griffons very early as sophomore Alex John picked up two quick fouls that put him on the bench for a majority of the first half.
“We need Alex John on the court.” said Coach Will Martin, “He’s, in my opinion, an all-league type player.”
Junior Caleb Bennett also picked up two very quick fouls to send him to the bench early. The Griffons kept rolling and led by as much as 14 in the first half. The Griffons had full control of the first half and led the Eagles 38–29 at halftime.
The Eagles regrouped and came out strong in the second half and the foul trouble continued to play a factor for the Griffons. John played just a few minutes before picking up his third and fourth fouls. He later fouled out later in the second half playing only 8 minutes. The Eagles got into the bonus around halfway through the second half and took advantage of the free throws. The score went back and forth a majority of the half. The last few minutes were very tension-filled. The Eagles went up by three points with 1:31 remaining when Coach Will Martin took a time out. Out of the time out Mays easily got to the bucket for a layup to make it a one-point game. The Eagles missed their chance at the other end and sophomore Will Eames came down with the board and was fouled. Eames stepped to the line and missed both free throws but the Griffons secured the rebound. The Eagles fouled Mays as he stepped to the line and split the free throws. Eames grabs another board on the missed free throw and gives the Griffons a chance to win with 15 seconds to go. Mays took a tough jumper that hit the front of the rim as the time expired.
Overtime didn’t go the Griffons way. Mays fouled out early in overtime and the Griffs were down their leading scorer. The fouls led to many Eagle free throws to close the game. The Eagles took control and didn’t look back. The Griffons lost the hard-fought battle 83–77 in overtime.
Mays finished the game with 28 points and 5 assists, leading the Griffons in both categories. Eames led the team in rebounds and recorded a double-double with 14 points and 17 rebounds. Bennett was also contributing all around with 12 points and 3 steals. Coach Martin had many thoughts after the game.
“It’s really simple. We missed 13 free throws, we turned the ball over 17 times, and we only had 10 assists,” said Martin.
The Griffons will look to bounce back in the Small College Basketball Hall of Fame Classic. They take on Saint Thomas Aquinas to finish out the classic.