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Men’s basketball falls in overtime loss to Raptors

First-year+guard+Jaylon+ONeal+takes+the+ball+to+the+hoop+while+being+chased+down+by+Raptors+senior+guard+Heston+Tucker+and+other+defenders+in+the+Bombers+loss+on+Feb.+16.
Nathan Glasser
First-year guard Jaylon O’Neal takes the ball to the hoop while being chased down by Raptors’ senior guard Heston Tucker and other defenders in the Bombers’ loss on Feb. 16.

With playoff hopes still alive, the Ithaca College men’s basketball team mounted a second half comeback against the Bard College Raptors sending the game into overtime. However, the South Hill Squad ultimately fell short 102–97.

The Bombers had extra motivation going into the game as it was the first game featured in the Blue Crew Bash where students can earn points to get rewards. The bash seemed to work as the bleachers were packed with students.

The Raptors were led by senior forward Rowan Heinze who put up 23 points and senior guard Lazaros Panagiotounis with 22 points. The Bombers were led by junior guard Logan Wendell with 18 points.

Coming off his career high game where he scored 37 points and reached an 1,000 point career milestone, Wendell got the Bombers started with a driving layup to score the first points of the game and to make the score 2–0

However over the next five minutes, Bard was able to bounce back with a 17–11 lead coming off a deep 3-point shot from senior guard Elliot Harris at 14:44

First-year guard Jaylon O’Neal fired back for the Bombers, playing strong defense on senior guard Azriel Almodovar and getting a steal and then dishing a no-look pass to first-year forward Alex Penders who finished the play off with a layup. On the next possession, junior guard Bryce Bleibtrey stole the ball and then hit a pull-up 3-point shot to tie the score up at 19. O’Neal looked like he was on a mission in the first few minutes as he would get another flashy assist to Penders in the paint and then a 3-point shot tying the score up at 24 with 9:20 left in the half.

The Raptors would lead for the remainder of the half, going on an 18–6 run and taking a 42–30 point lead with about four minutes remaining in the half. Going into the locker room, the Raptors held a confident 46–38 lead over the Bombers.

The Bombers opened up the half with some scrappy defense with sophomore guard Cole Wissink grabbing a falling steal and then senior guard Triston Wennersten sinking a 3-pointer off a Wendell assist to cut the deficit to 47–43. Two possessions later, first-year guard Evan Cabral made a layup to tie the score at 47 with 18 minutes remaining in the game.

The Raptors took back the lead right after and lead for the next four minutes of the game before O’Neal made another 3-point shot and senior guard Andrew Geschickter made a layup to tie the score up at 55 with 13:44 remaining in the game. Soon after, Bliebtrey made a deep three to take the Bombers first lead in over 15 minutes at 60–57, but senior guard Heston Tucker made a 3-point shot right after to tie the score up at 60 for the Raptors. O’Neal hit Geschickter in the corner for a 3-point shot on the next play to take the lead at 63–60.

Trailing 76–72 with four minutes remaining, Wendell drove into the basket to make a teardrop floater layup to cut the deficit to two points. However, the Raptors would take an 81–76 lead off of junior forward Sean Wilcox 3-point shot with 2:39 remaining. Over the next minute, the Bombers would go on a 4–0 run to make the matchup a one point game at 81–80. With 16 seconds remaining, Geschickter made a 3-point shot off an assist from Bleibtrey to tie the score up at 85 and send the game into overtime.

To start overtime, Wendell hit Wennersten in the paint to take the first lead of overtime at 87–85. On the next play, Panagiotounis made a 3-point shot to take a 88–87 lead and then made two free-throws and a 3-point shot on the next two possessions to take a 93–89 point lead. The Bombers started to mount a comeback, but ultimately fell short 102–97.

Head coach Waleed Farid said he thought the team did a lot of things well, but fell short on some stops. However, he is grateful for the opportunity for his team to get the opportunity to play basketball.

“I think we did a lot of things well,” Farid said. “Obviously, we didn’t get the stops we needed to, and we made some mistakes in key moments. But, we were lucky enough to play another basketball game. … Playing basketball is a privilege, so we gotta make sure we take advantage of every opportunity to play. [Tomorrow] it will be our senior day. We got to send those guys off on the right note and give them a positive memory to end the season.”

Farid also gave O’Neal high praise and said he is special to watch and has a lot of potential with the program.

Jaylon was phenomenal today,” Farid said. “His energy, his confidence was huge. We’re not in the game if Jay doesnt come in both halves and change the energy of the game. He’s got a really bright future. He’s one of the future cornerstones of this program. I was really happy with him to come play that way in such a big game.”

O’Neal said this loss is nothing new to him as he dealt with something similar last year in his senior year of high school.

“I felt like this last year, my last year in high school too, because we lost in the semi-finals, so I know exactly how this pain feels,” O’Neal said. “I think it’s just going to be a motivator to get better, be more prepared next year. I think we’re coming for everyone next year.”

With the loss, the Bombers record goes to 12-12 on the year with their next game being against Vassar at 4 p.m. Feb. 17 in the Ben Light Gymnasium. The game will be senior day, with it being the last game the seniors will play at Ithaca College unless they decide to return next year.

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Flynn Hynes, Assistant Sports Editor
Nathan Glasser, Videographer
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