Photo by Max Berkowitz (FDU-Florham athletics)

A Tale of Two Halves for the FDU-Florham Devils

Wednesday evening, the FDU-Florham Devils men's basketball team struggled to find their rhythm against the Arcadia Knights. In the opening minutes of the game, the Knights went on a 13-0 run and never allowed the Devils to close the gap. At times, it appeared FDU-Florham was gaining momentum but this was quickly extinguished by the Knights. The size, athleticism, and length just proved to be too much for the Devils going down the stretch. Ultimately, FDU-Florham fell to the Knights, 84-71. 

“We wanted to use our athleticism and play inside out,” Arcadia men's basketball HC Adam Van Zelst stated in the post-game conference. “We have an all-conference big man [Jalen Watkins] so the goal was to put the defense in the tough spot, and force them to double.”

In spite of the tough loss, the Devils showed promise throughout the game. One of the key players who stood out for the FDU-Florham was sophomore PG Jamal Santana. Santana ended the game with 25 points and two assists. That said, many of the team just got the momentum rolling a bit too late in the game.

In the first half, the Devils' leading scorer was Santana with 13 out of the Devils' 25 points. That said, it’s safe to say he had it going all game. However, the second-highest scorer only had four points for the half. The Devils struggled to get open looks and most importantly knockdown shots. In fact, the Devils shot a measly 18% from the three-point line, ultimately shooting 26% for the game.

FDU-Florham trailed at halftime, 43-25.

FDU-Florham Devils Rally Back to Late

In the second half, the Devils came out with much more energy and aggressiveness. In the first half, the Devils manage to shoot only two free throws, yet they managed to shoot 10 in the second. The sense of urgency was evident as they were trailing by 18 going into the half.

“In the second half, I thought they did better digging down and they played with more energy. … It just speaks volumes to who they are and why I respect the hell out of them,” Van Zelst expressed.

Unfortunately, as the Devils began to get on a role the Knights continued to gouge them in the paint with their star C senior Jalen Watkins. He managed to end the game with a double-double (20 points and 15 rebounds). 

“We never really put it that way to our kids, but rather just tried to keep putting them in positions to get us back in it,” Slanovec expressed in the post game interview. “We didn’t bring great energy or toughness to the first half and that put us in a position where we were always chasing in the second half.”

 "We’re still learning what competing for 40 minutes looks like and we don’t lose a single guy this year. Slanovec continued.

All in all, the Devils managed to cut the lead within ten in the final minutes of the game. Again, it just was too little too late for the Devils to surmount the deficit.