The Worcester 78s finished a split of their four straight road games on Saturday. They were hit hard by their division rivals, the Jersey Express, 161-130, at the Don Bosco Technology Academy.
Worcester started out with 2-0 advantage prior to regulation, as they made a pair of free throws. After Jersey quickly tied it up, Daivon Edwards sank a long three-point basket to put Worcester up 5-2.
Shortly after however, the 78s miscommunicated defensively. Scott Tavares-Taylor and Naadir Tharpe accidentally covered the same man on the left side of the court, leaving the right side fully open.
The Express found the open man who scored a three-pointer, tying the game up. Jersey would then jump ahead 15-11 later on in the quarter, but Edwards again sank a deep three-pointer to pull the 78s to within one.
Jersey responded with a two-pointer, but Maurice Horton sank a three-pointer to tie the game at 17. Jersey again continued to find paths in the paint, as they scored two more field goals to jump ahead 21-17.
Horton however responded again and made another three-pointer, to make it 21-20. The 78s then made a sloppy play after they got the rebound on the next Jersey drive down the court.
Jose Cruz Jr. passed the ball over to Tharpe. Tharpe caught Edwards running down the left side of the court and fired the ball towards him. However, the ball went wide and out of bounds, giving the Express the ball back.
Jersey made the 78s pay for their mistake and the inability to get the rebound again, as they’d make it 23-20. From there, Jersey would go on a 16-7 run, and lead after the first, 39-27.
After a sloppy pass was directed at him, Edwards reciprocated by trying to make a pass to Tavares-Taylor in the early part of the second quarter. The pass floated in midair and was easily taken away by the Express. Jersey drove back down the court and made the layup, to go ahead 42-29.
Edwards and Tavares-Taylor would then both make three-pointers to make it 45-37. The Express train kept on rolling however after two free-throws and three-pointer, which made the score 50-37.
On another Worcester drive in the quarter, Tharpe passed the ball over to Jerry Buchanon, who shot a three-pointer. However, the shot didn’t count, as the referee blew his whistle and called an offensive foul on Tharpe.
A player from Jersey ran over to block Buchanon’s’ shot and bumped into Tharpe’s left shoulder, presumably on purpose.
Tharpe turned to the official in shock and angrily said, “How? How? Just tell me why.” The official then gave Tharpe a technical foul, which aggravated head coach Anthony Leonelli. Leonelli then had some words for the official and he received a technical.
Jersey made all three technical free throws and would lead after the second quarter, 80-64.
The Express kept it up in the third quarter, as they scored two three-point baskets to make it 86-64. Tharpe would make a three to make it 86-67, but the Express’ Donald Johnson would make a layup and the score eventually became 90-67.
Tharpe however continued his tremendous game and made another three-pointer, after which he let out an emotional scream. But by then, the game was out of reach, and the fourth quarter began with Jersey leading 136-96.
In the fourth, with a comfortable lead, the Express waited for the clock to run out. An Express player even took a nonsensical three-pointer shot from just above half court in the early parts of the quarter.
In the end, it was Jersey winning it, 161-130. Four Express players scored at least 20 points and Donald Hennie led them on the day with 41. With the loss, Worcester falls to 3-2 on the season. Their next game is on Saturday against the Western Mass Zombies at Worcester State University.