ESU Men’s Basketball Head Coach Jeff Wilson notched career victory number 300 as ESU beat the Felician University Golden Falcons 109-85 in a non-conference game at Felician’s Job Gymnasium in Rutherford, N.J. on Nov. 20.
The Golden Falcons came out of the locker room ready to play, and the first five minutes saw fireworks from both teams.
Felician junior Rachid Shimou’s seven points and junior Zamir Wright’s five points kept the game knotted at 14.
But a reverse layup by ESU junior forward Michal Weiss ignited a 22-4 run by ESU.
From that point on, the Warriors left the Golden Falcons in the rearview mirror as ESU coasted to a 62-38 lead at halftime en route to a resounding 109-85 win.
The Warriors were paced by senior guard Nick Giordano and redshirt senior forward Josh Williams.
Giordano had a strong shooting night and scored a career-high 24 points in 28 minutes of play.
Williams set new career-highs for himself with 22 points and 17 rebounds.
PSAC Men’s Basketball Eastern Division Freshman of the Week Ryan Smith had his second double-double of his young career with 21 points and 13 rebounds for the game.
Freshman guard Shamir Johnson was the microwave for ESU.
He came off the bench and scored 12 points in only 18 minutes of play.
“I think today for us, we were able to execute our offense and make baskets and get into our pressure,” said redshirt senior point guard Jakwan Jones
Jones will play more minutes this season because senior point guard Kitt Najee Walls is expected to miss the entire year.
“There is a little more responsibility,” stated Jones.
“But our freshman point guard, Shamir Johnson, he’s playing really solid,” Jones said.
“He played really well today, too.”
After the game, the team celebrated the victory by dousing Wilson with Gatorade.
Overall, Wilson was pleased with his team’s performance.
“With a young team, this was the kind of game we needed,” Wilson said. “Everybody got involved. We got great balance.”
“And with our youth, that is really valuable to get guys into the game–to get guys game experience so it is not just practice,” stated Wilson.
Of course, 300 wins is a milestone, and Wilson took a moment to reflect on his achievement.
“The first thing, it means I coached a lot of games,” Wilson said. “I am getting older.”
“It is very gratifying. The first coach to do that at East Stroudsburg, my alma mater,” stated Wilson.
“So that makes it even more special–to be able to achieve a milestone like that at your alma mater,” Wilson said.
“To be able to coach guys that are very much like you.
Guys who are state school guys I can identify with,” stated Wilson. “It’s very satisfying to see those guys excited and happy.”
Redshirt senior forward Steven Stoney had to take last year off, but he has returned to the team.
“I am very happy to have him back,” Wilson said. “A senior being able to finish his degree.”
“I am very proud of him to complete the things that he needed to complete and be able to come back and complete his journey as a college basketball player and more importantly as a college student,” stated Wilson.
The defending conference champions are younger this season and are going through some growing pains.
But after dropping the first two games to open their season, the Warriors have won two in a row to even their record.
“The last three or four days, we’ve really done a good job of working to make ourselves be successful,” stated Wilson.
“The young guys have really tried to digest it, and the veterans have given us good leadership to this point,” Wilson said.
“I think this is going to be a team that can get a lot better during the course of the year because of our youth,” stated Wilson.
“I think the more things they see, the better off we are going to be.”
“To be 2-2 and bounce back with two wins after two tough losses on the road, I wanted to challenge this team,” Wilson said.
“And tonight, I was happy with what we did,” stated Wilson.
ESU extended its winning streak to three by beating Queens (N.Y.) College 74-58 in a home game last Monday.
The Warriors (3-2) will play Mercyhurst (4-0) this Saturday in the second part of their three-game homestand at Koehler Fieldhouse.
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