NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Knights drop three of four coming out of winter break

The Knights have struggled coming out of the winter break this year, going 1-3 over the first four games of the new year. The Knights opened with double-digit losses at Southern Maine
Community College and at home against Lincoln College of New England before netting a tight
57-53 win over Vermont
Technical College last Sunday. Hoping to get a winning streak started, the Knights suffered a tough overtime loss on the road at
Bristol Community College Tuesday night.
The loss at Southern Maine was mainly caused by poor ball handling. The Knights committed 14 turnovers in the game
compared to only ten assists. Any game where the turnovers
outnumber the assists is more than likely going to end up in a loss, and a team like NECC just isn’t talented enough to make up for mistakes like that.
Matthew Jameson and Elijah Mukiibi struggled offensively, combining to shoot 4-25 from the field (16 percent) and only
netting 11 points. The backcourt duo of Edwin Gonzalez and Bryan Morales did most of the scoring for the Knights. Morales finished with ten points and only one turnover while Gonzalez scored 24. Gonzalez added five rebounds and five steals to round out his numbers.
It was much of the same when the Knights returned home to face off with
Lincoln College of New
England. NECC was outrebounded by 28 (65-37) and committed 15 turnovers. Despite another poor team shooting performance (33 percent from the field, 29
percent from three), the scoring was a little more evenly distributed.
Jameson and Mukiibi got back on track, scoring 17 and 13 points, respectively. Mukiibi also had eight rebounds. Forward Jonathan Paulino had a big day in the paint with a double-double (11 points, 16 rebounds) and Gonzalez came through with 13 points and a few assists. Kevin Brito contributed 12 points and two rebounds off the bench, while Chris Corey scored seven.
The win over Vermont Technical College exemplifies just what has to happen for the Knights to be successful. While they still committed 12 turnovers, the Knights shot the ball extremely well from three-point range (53.3 percent) and from the field in general (39.2 percent). With an undersized roster that has some trouble with rebounding, the number one remedy is to put the ball in the hoop.
Morales had another good game with 13 points including four three-pointers. Jameson was right behind with ten points, and Gonzalez added seven. Mukiibi and Paulino did their job down low, coming down with nine and eight rebounds, respectively. Each added a handful of points as well.
The Knights came out in the next game against Bristol with a bit of momentum from the previous win. They played well during much of the game, even out-rebounding Bristol 49-35. But they struggled to shoot the ball again, only hitting 31.7 percent of their shots and 19.2 percent from the field. Although they forced 14 turnovers, NECC committed 12 on their end, continuing the trend of bad ball handling. The defense faltered in the overtime period and Bristol was able to take a commanding lead.
The big men in the middle were the stars of this one. Mukiibi and Paulino both recorded double-doubles, with Mukiibi scoring 18 points and pulling down 14 rebounds and Paulino netting 14 points and 18 rebounds. The two of them combined for more rebounds than the entire starting five for Bristol. Gonzalez and Jameson also came to play, with Gonzalez scoring 14 points and Jameson scoring 11.
The Knights now stand at 6-11 on the season. With only ten games left to go, it’s going to be a fairly tough road to register even a .500 record. NECC still faces tough tests against teams like Roxbury Community College, Holyoke Community College and the University of Connecticut at Avery Point.
The one thing going for the Knights is that most of the remaining games are at home, but that is of little comfort to a team that is still struggling to put the ball in the net.