By Nicole Apicelli
The men’s basketball team closed out the regular season in Packer Hall on Wednesday against Rutgers-Newark. Despite a huge comeback in the second half, the Lions were unable to secure the win — the game ended with a score of 68-52 in favor of the Scarlet Raiders.
The College’s first point of the night was earned at the foul line by Danny Bodine, who is technically a senior health and exercise science and public health major, even though he will join the Lions for another year. Abe Kromah and Quincy Rutherford of the Scarlet Raiders quickly responded, earning two points each as they set the tone for the rest of their high scoring first half.
Following a three-pointer by junior Anthony Dicaro, a secondary education major, the Lions experienced a major scoring drought as Rutgers-Newark pushed to the basket drive after drive to increase their lead. Despite a slight pickup for the Lions in the final minutes of the half, the Scarlet Raiders had earned 33 points compared to the College’s 14.
The spectators were in for a surprise as both teams headed to their locker rooms at halftime and the dance team took to the court, prepared for a powerful performance. A flood of men wearing coordinated outfits consisting of jeans, navy-blue tops and sneakers filled the floor as it was revealed that the baseball team would be joining in on the fun.
Spirits were lifted as a roar of laughter filled the room while watching the baseball team give their greatest attempt to keep up with the choreography to several songs, including “DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love” by Usher. At the conclusion of the performance, a seemingly unrecognizable pride emerged ready to compete.
Jason Larranga, a junior undeclared major in the school of humanities and social sciences, came out strong, making back-to-back baskets and an incredible three-pointer to start the second half. Dicaro contributed another five points and another strong drive to the basket.
The Scarlet Raiders grew silent as the Lions lessened the scoring gap to 55-42. The Lions’ chances of a comeback were promising, and with five minutes and 42 seconds remaining, Rutgers-Camden called a timeout.
In spite of their performance, the 38 points accumulated during the half were not enough to catch up to the Scarlet Raiders.
David Rodriguez, also known as “D-rod,” a senior global business major, was greeted by a sea of applause and appreciation shortly before the event began, as his parents joined him on the court to celebrate his last collegiate game.
“It’s everything, oh my god — TCNJ and basketball it's everything,” Rodriguez said. “I wouldn't have the same college experience if it wasn't for all of my guys.”
Rodriguez and Bodine shared similar sentiments as they discussed the endless joy the basketball family brought them over the years. As the players expressed their gratitude, head coach Matthew Goldsmith spoke of how appreciative he is for everything the two have contributed to the team.
“It’s been a blessing to have him in our program for four years. I’m proud to have coached him,” said Goldsmith in regards to Rodriguez.
The Lions competed in the first round of the playoffs Saturday – defeating Ramapo College, 81-74. The College will take on Stockton University in the quarterfinals this Tuesday at seven in Galloway, New Jersey.