ELIZABETH— Worcester’s inability to match the Jersey Express size, caused the 78’s to get railroaded by a lopsided 161-130 outcome last Saturday night in New Jersey.
Worcester did successfully shoot 19-for-41 from behind the arc, and overall was solid from the field connecting for 47 percent, however the 78’s offensive output wasn’t enough to slow down the
“We really struggled with urgency, when you play a team as good as Jersey, you need to be able to match their intensity from the jump and I didn’t like the way we responded to their runs,” said Worcester head coach Anthony Leonelli after the game.
Worcester did shows signs of life in the first quarter as Scotty Tavarez-Taylor (15 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists) made an acrobatic layup while Naadir Tharpe (19 points, 11 assists) hit a pull-up jumper from the elbow to give Worcester an early 9-7 advantage.
Maurice Horton (25 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists) would add a three-pointer from the corner, to tie the score at 17-17, before Jersey converted along the baseline in transition with their size underneath.
Domonique Bull (14 points) would convert a strong move to the hole to cut the Jersey lead to 29-22, before Jersey’s frontcourt and overall rebounding played a role; as the Express on one possession pulled in three offensive rebounds, before scoring on a tip-in to give them a 31-22 lead.
Worcester’s Mark Cornelius added an acrobatic layup in transition to make the score 31-24, but Jersey fought their way back to the line, securing their lead by crashing the offensive glass.
Jersey would close out the first quarter with a three-pointer from the wing to make the score 39-27, and finish on a 22-10 run.
Worcester opened the second quarter with a Jose Cruz Jr lay-up, to cut the lead to a ten-point deficit, however Jersey responded with two three-pointers in transition to go up 45-29.
Horton would add a fall-away jumper outside the lane to cut the lead to 45-31 and get Worcester going for a bit as Tavarez-Taylor and Daivon Edwards (21 points, 4 rebounds) added three-pointers in transition to make the score 45-37.
“Daivon Edwards gave us a real lift shooting the ball and Mark Cornelius and Mo Horton are two guys that play hard regardless of score,” Leonelli said.
Worcester would concede in the second half as Jersey outscored the 78’s from the start to give themselves a 136-96 advantage going into the fourth quarter, before settling on a 161-130 final.
After the game, Coach Leonelli blamed himself for not having his team in better match-ups, to keep pace with Jersey.
“Part of the problem is I should probably have committed to a rotation by now, when you have as much as talent as we do, sometimes you try to do too much,” Leonelli said.
Worcester did finish the game with six players scoring in double-digits as Kamahl Walker added 15 points and four rebounds.
The 78’s (3-2) finally return home after a 2-2 road trip to New York and New Jersey, to face the Western Massachusetts Zombies on December 8th at Worcester State University.
“We have a good chance to get back in the win column this weekend with a back-to-back and I’m hoping we’re ready to go,” Leonelli said.