The Worcester 78s remained undefeated in the second half of the season, as they steamrolled the Jersey Express at the Wellness Center on February 9, 138-114.
Worcester quickly jumped out in front in the first quarter by taking advantage of some Jersey miscues. The Express shot wildly from behind the arc, hitting nothing but air on a few occasions. There was also miscommunication with some of their dribbling and passing sequences.
With a little over six minutes remaining in the quarter, New Jersey’s forward/wing Antoine Obery, attempted to pass the ball to Jason Smith. Smith’s fingers had butter on them though, as the ball went right through them and out of bounds.
The 78s took advantage of the turnover as Tony Gallo passed the ball to Sam Longwell underneath the basket. Longwell made the easy layup to make it 21-8 Worcester.
Smith would make up for his error by nailing a three-pointer from the right side behind the arc to make it 21-11, but Longwell would respond with another field goal to make it 23-11.
With 5.8 seconds remaining in the quarter, Longwell passed the ball inbounds to Kamahl Walker, who sank a nice two-point field goal over the head of Jersey’s Donald Johnson, to end the quarter.
The second quarter began with the Express having moderate success at the free-throw line. On a 78s’ possession, Gallo attempted to make a layup but missed. However, Maurice Horton got the rebound and made a beautiful backwards over the head basket to add on to the Worcester lead.
Jersey then made a couple of baskets to decrease the gap a bit, but they could’ve done more, as they continued to struggle with their free throws. Obery missed both shots with 7:47 to go in the quarter.
Walker followed up the missed shots with an and-1 basket. King was later fouled for the 78s and he made both foul shots, as the 78s continued to keep a breathable distance between themselves and the Express. Dmitri Floras would later hit a three-pointer at the 7:11 mark of the quarter, and Longwell would sink two more from downtown at the 5:47 and 4:56 marks.
The Express, who in the first half of the season had blown the 78s out of the water by halftime at the Dunn Sports Arena, were now getting a taste of their own medicine from the 78s, who were relentless in preventing them from even getting a sniff closer in the game.
King made a nice drop-shot basket to begin action in the third quarter. The 78s’ defense remained strong too, as Horton used his height to his advantage and prevented Obery from getting an easy layup shot.
Tavares-Taylor and Gallo then teamed together to confuse the Jersey defense. Tavares-Taylor had the ball and Gallo, who was being guarded, raised his arm and walked towards him up the court towards. The Jersey player nonchalantly followed, but Gallo made a quick cut towards the basket and Tavares-Taylor capitalized.
Gallo got the pass from Tavares-Taylor and made the layup, as the 78s continued to make the Express pay for their December 1 game.
In the fourth quarter, Worcester continued their sensational offensive passes, as they executed a triangle offense. Floras, Jose Cruz Jr., and Dominique Bull made up the triangle on the right side of the court, distracting the Jersey defense. Floras spotted Walker wide open down below and passed the ball to him. Walker made the easy layup, and the 78s cruised to the easy win, 138-114.
Maurice Horton had another double-double on the night, his fourth straight game achieving that feat. He had 16 points and 12 rebounds. Elsewhere, three players had 20 or more points on the night; Walker (21), Gallo (22), and Longwell (27).