Stephen Pianovich (@SPianovich)
Even up through player announcements of Saturday’s Rosemont-William Paterson game, there was a sense about uncertainty about the contest tipping off.
William Paterson, a Division-III school based in Wayne, N.J., had walked off the floor right before its Tuesday game to protest the firing of head coach Jose Rebimbas. But with longtime assistant Brian Chapman serving as head coach, the Pioneers took the floor in the second game of Cabrini’s 2015 Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Nerney Field House.
And once they did, the two teams put on an entertaining affair. It ended with William Paterson going on a late run and ending the program’s wild week with a 72-68 win over Rosemont.
“We pulled it together the last five minutes, and we got it done,” said Chapman, who declined to comment on Tuesday’s protest or the decision to play Saturday. “And at this point, we’ll take a 'W' no matter how it happens.”
Said Rosemont coach Barney Hughes: “After what happened on Tuesday, we were wondering, but we prepared like we were going to play and get a good effort from them, and I think we got that.”
William Paterson got off to a more sluggish start than Rosemont. The Pioneers scored the game’s first seven points, but then the Ravens went on a 19-4 run. William Paterson pulled to within three at halftime, and the game was tightly contested the rest of the way.
The Pioneers’ Bright Mensah was, well, a huge bright spot for Chapman’s bunch. Mensah scored 29 points and his 3-pointer with a minute left put William Paterson up by five. The triple, which was part of Mensah’s 12-for-17 shooting day, was the defining moment of a 19-10 run that clinched the win.
“When you don’t get stops, it’s hard to win games,” Hughes said. “We couldn’t stop them down the stretch. Give them credit, they got some offensive rebounds, but they also got some easy baskets on defensive breakdowns. We needed a stop, we needed three or four in a row."
Rosemont (3-2) had the ball down by three in the last 10 seconds, but Marcus Thomas’ desperation jumper fell short. Thomas, who averages 23.6 points per game, ended with 21 on 6-of-13 shooting, but he was the only Rosemont player in double figures.
It was by no means a bad loss for Hughes’ bunch, as William Paterson is just outside d3hoops.com’s Top 25, and the Ravens only other defeat of the season came at the hands of a strong DeSales unit.
Rosemont also got its CSAC slate started with a 96-92 win against Neumann on Tuesday – the team’s biggest victory of the young season. In the high-scoring win, every Rosemont starter was in double figures, and four of them had at least 16 points.
Hughes said that will be the key for the Ravens moving forward, but it doesn’t hurt to be led by Thomas, who can score from anywhere on the floor.
“Coming into the season, we knew he would have the chance to be a special player,” Hughes said. “I think Marc needs to realize he needs to trust his teammates. When he does that, we do very well. And it’s not that we didn’t see that tonight, I just don’t think we saw the results. But I think overall, our greatest asset is that he never stops playing. He plays hard no matter what, and I don’ think there are a lot of scorers you can say that about.”