The men’s basketball team opened the 2013-2014 season by shooting their way to a McCarthy Tire Laurel Line Tournament victory in the Anderson Sports and Health Center.
The Cougars first faced Marywood University and were challenged for the entire 40 minutes. The Pacers played the Cougars to the last-minute and even had the lead for some time in the second half.
Joe Busacca, a junior sports management major, had other ideas. The guard went on to have a team best 28 points in the game, including a 6-8 performance from the three-point range.
“The performance really speaks for our team,” said Busacca. “It wasn’t just me out there. The guys found me open, and I did what I had to do.”
The Pacers, led by freshman forward Matthew Clark’s 17 points, fell just short in the 67-60 thriller.
The championship game of the annual tournament against Baptist Bible College was a completely different story for the Cougars.
The team came out and nearly put up triple digits on the scoreboard. In a 93-78 debacle, the Cougars could not be tamed. The Defenders had no answer for the Cougars.
Junior sports management major Cael Evans likes what he saw out of the team’s first starts. In his third year with the team, Evans serves as co-captain.
“We as a team work to be as efficient as we can be with every aspect of the game of basketball,” he said. “At the end of the day, nobody cares about personal stats.”
This marks the fifth consecutive Laurel Line Tournament victory for the Cougars. Busacca was named the tournament’s MVP. Busacca credits the MVP award not for himself, but for the team itself because without them, would not have the opportunity to have that good of a weekend.
Though this is a great start, this is just one goal players have in mind for the 2013-2014 season.
Evans said the team’s goals include winning every tournament, winning every home game, winning the Freedom Conference Championship – and players having a 3.0 GPA in the classroom.
“We can achieve these goals by playing 20 minutes of basketball at a time,” said Evans. “If we have a bad first half, we take the mentality of the second half is a new game starting at 0-0 and we can win the game.”
Busacca and Evans speak highly of the student section that showed up that weekend.
“It was an unbelievable student section and we really appreciate the fans and the energy they bring,” said Busacca. “I want to see that with every home game, even the Wednesday night games.”
Evans said the students are a reason the team did so well in the season-opening weekend.
“We feed of their positive energy. There is no doubt about it,” said Evans. “We hope to see that kind of student section all season.”
The team is looking to return to its roots winning a MAC title much like they accomplished two seasons ago. The opening weekend was their first step. The Cougars first MAC game is scheduled against Wilkes University Dec. 4.