By Dustin Niles
Layout & Design Editor
The men’s basketball team fell to NEC rival Wagner 59-68 on Saturday, stretching their losing streak to three games. The game was close throughout, but FDU couldn’t make the comeback at the end to seal the win. Offense was an issue all game, as FDU kept Wagner to 68 points but couldn’t capitalize and overcome Wagner’s defense.
Wagner jumped out to an early 4-11 lead with 13:27 remaining in the first period. Wagner built their lead as FDU missed four straight baskets from the field. FDU used baskets from Malik Miller, Stephan Jiggetts, Darnell Edge, Darian Anderson, Mike Holloway, Ghassan Nehme, and a three-pointer by Earl Potts Jr. to tie up the game 23-23 going into the half.
The second half started with three pointers by Edge and Potts, but Wagner eventually took back the lead and stretched it out again to 52-61 with four minutes to go in the game. After a pair of good free throws by Kaleb Bishop with three minutes to go, FDU looked like it could possibly have time for a comeback. But 10 more missed shots before the end of the game sunk FDU’s chances. Wagner capped off the game with two fouls shots and the game finished at 59-68.
Coach Herenda sounded confident about the team’s performance after the game and praised the defense’s job in keeping the game a low-scoring affair, while also noting the problems that the offensive performance presented in the game.
“I thought we played good defense,” Herenda said, “We just put them to the foul line way too much…our pressure and our defense was our mainstay.”
Herenda also talked about FDU’s recent back-and-forth rivalry with Wagner, which fueled a large attendance at Saturday’s game.
“I enjoy it thoroughly,” Herenda said, “Before we got here, the games weren’t competitive with Wagner. And now, we’ve added good players and we play hard so it’s a natural rivalry. It seems like everybody wins in the other gym. We’ve won three consecutive games at Wagner and I think since I’ve been here they’ve won three consecutive games here. So I think whoever has the edge has the edge, and when you’re on the road you have to have an edge. But I love the rivalry. We really respect Wagner.”
Despite FDU’s recent stumbles, Herenda wasn’t worried about his team’s ability to come back, citing last year.
“Last year, we lost three consecutive home games and then went on and won five straight and won the [NEC] Tournament Championship,” Herenda said, “So, I think we’re going through that stretch where things aren’t offensively clicking and our defense is just good enough but not good enough to win us the game. We just have to get some rest, we have a lot of guys banged up.”
FDU takes on Central Connecticut State on Thursday Feb. 9 at 5 p.m. to finish out their home stretch. As the standings sit now, FDU is 10-13 overall and 8-4 in the NEC Conference. Mount St. Mary’s leads the NEC at 10-2, and FDU is tied for second in the standings with Saint Francis at 8-4. FDU will face Mount St. Mary’s at home on Feb. 16 at 4 p.m. and will finish out their regular season by facing Saint Francis on their home turf on Feb. 25.