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Men’s basketball miss playoffs for first time since 2016-17 season with loss to Brewers

Sophomore+guard+Cole+Wissink+gets+ready+to+shoot+a+free-throw+while+trailing+34%E2%80%9326+deep+into+the+first+half+in+the+Bombers+senior+day+loss+to+Vassar+College+on+Feb.+17.
Lucia Iandolo
Sophomore guard Cole Wissink gets ready to shoot a free-throw while trailing 34–26 deep into the first half in the Bombers’ senior day loss to Vassar College on Feb. 17.

The Ithaca College men’s basketball team squared off against the Vassar College Brewers on Senior Day Feb. 17 at Ben Light Gymnasium. The Bombers fell 79-78 in the last minute of the game and gave their final goodbyes to senior guards Andrew Geschickter, Triston Wennersten, Noah Downing and Blake Haber.

Going into the game, the Bombers needed losses from the Rochester Institute of Technology and Clarkson University and a win to grab a spot at the No. 6 seed to make the Liberty League playoffs. However, they came up short, missing the playoffs for the first time since the 2016-17 season with a loss and a win from both RIT and Clarkson.

The Brewers were led by first-year guard Avery Lee with 18 points and a 60% field goal percentage. First-year guard Shea Fitzgerald followed with 16 points, five rebounds and three assists.

Junior guard Logan Wendell led the Bombers, scoring 22 points and dishing out nine assists. Wennersten also had 22 points, but contributed six rebounds. First-year forward Alex Penders showed some potential with 15 points in 17 minutes, shooting six for seven from the field.

The first 10 minutes started out slow for the Bombers, as the Brewers led 22–13. To start the game, the Bombers looked a little shaky, allowing the Brewers to go on an 11–2 run three minutes into the game, with their only points being off a silky fadeaway from Geschickter. Even though the Brewers kept up their dominant play, the Bombers showed strong shooting efforts, getting 3-points shots from Wennersten, Wendell and Penders to keep their deficit at nine points. First-year guard Shea Fitzgerald looked hot for the Brewers, grabbing seven points.

In the next five minutes, the Brewers showed no slowing down, getting 3-point shots from junior guard Luke Adams and Lee. Right after, Lee would convert on an and-one to improve Vassar’s lead to 33–19. The Bombers showed some signs of coming back, going into the locker room trailing 41–29. The story of the half was rebounds for the Brewers, who grabbed 29 rebounds and nine offensive rebounds versus the Bombers’ 11 rebounds and two offensive rebounds.

The Bombers form a team huddle to discuss their game plan during a timeout. (Lucia Iandolo)

Wendell gave the Bombers momentum to start the second half. His hustle was unmatched as he grabbed a steal on the opening play and took it to the hoop for a layup. To keep up the momentum, the Bombers went on a 10–2 run to cut their deficit to 43–39. Wennersten made a notable 3-point shot, but started limping with what appeared to be an injury in his right knee. However, he continued to play and made another 3-point shot just after to make the score 45–42. Wendell continued to be on fire, getting nine points in the first five minutes of the half.

Wennersten, in his final game at Ben Light Gymnasium, showed some hustle, continuing to jump under the basket and grab rebounds. With 14 minutes left, Wennersten cut the deficit to 49–48 off of two free-throws. On their next possession, Geschickcter sank a 3-point shot to take the Bombers’ first lead of the game at 51–49. In the first seven minutes of the half, the South Hill squad went on a 24–8 run leading 53–49.

Lee got the Brewers back in the game, sinking a 3-point shot with 10 minutes to make it a one-point game with the Bombers leading 57–56. The Brewers then took a 58–57 point lead off a layup from sophomore forward Nathan Denham. The game continued to be back and forth with Wendell knotting the score at 63 with 7:34 remaining. The Brewers ran away with a 6-0 run to lead 69–63 with 5:35 remaining. The Bombers did not call it quits though, getting a layup and a 3-point shot from Penders and two 3-point shots from Wennersten to trail 75–74 with a little under four minutes left in the game.

With one minute left, the Bombers trailed 77–76. The Brewers got another offensive rebound with 30 seconds left and passed the ball to Fitzgerald, who made a jump shot to take a 79–76 lead. The next play, Wendell went to the line to make the game a one-point game at 79–78. Directly after, the Brewers went to the line but could not make their shots, leaving the Bombers with an opportunity to make a game-winner. Being closely defended, Wendell put up a fadeaway shot, but it bounced off the rim to result in a 79–78 Bombers loss.

Reflecting on his final game with them, head coach Waleed Farid gave the senior class high praise and said he is wishing them the best of luck with their future beyond Ithaca College.

“Those guys are great,” Farid said. “They did everything that’s been asked of them, some of the hardest workers we’ve ever had, or I’ve ever been around. I feel bad that it didn’t end the way they wanted it to end. They’re all great people, great teammates, great players. Definitely going into whatever they do next, they’ll take some Ithaca with them and the things they’ve learned here, [and] go and make wherever they go next, make those people better like they made us. I’m going to miss those guys, and we’re going to try to do our best going forward and make them proud of us.”

With the loss, the Bombers’ season is officially over with the Liberty League playoffs starting Feb. 20.

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Flynn Hynes, Assistant Sports Editor
Lucia Iandolo, Videographer
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