February 7, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 39°F


Men’s basketball takes first defeat of the season to Scranton

On the heels of a back-and-forth, 90–84 win at Skidmore College on Nov. 14, in which they made a record 36 free-throws on 46 attempts, the Ithaca College men’s basketball team hit the road once more for a bout with The University of Scranton. The Bombers ended up falling to the Royals 78–67 on Nov. 17 in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Scranton’s senior center Brendan Boken and junior center John Vitkus staked the Royals to a 4–3 lead. The Bombers’ three points came off a free-throw and a layup from freshman guard Peter Ezema.

The Bombers’ smooth-shooting sophomore guard Marc Chasin got off to a hot start as well, contributing six points while going 3-for-5 from the field in the first three minutes, but his output was matched by the Royals’ Vitkus, who was also 3-for-5 shooting. After an offensive foul with 12 minutes left in the first half, Scranton burned its first timeout, despite holding a 13–9 lead.

The Bombers would fight back from their early hole, going on a 4–0 run out of the Scranton timeout to knot the game at 13 with 11 minutes to play in the half. Despite the resilience shown by the Blue and Gold, the Royals would construct a 9–2 run, making the score 22–15 with 7:30 to go in the first half, forcing the Bombers to use their first timeout.

After the timeout, Scranton continued to build on its advantage, led mostly by Boken, who dominated down low and scored almost every time he touched the ball, on his way to 19 first half points. Vitkus was also a key contributor, pairing 10 first half rebounds with 12 points to secure a double-double in just the first half of action.

The Bombers continued to battle, getting to within six points on a Carlin Champion 3-pointer with 5:40 remaining. After that trey, however, the Bombers went cold from the field while the Royals caught fire. A 16–9 run by Scranton to close the half would make it 44–31 Royals at the break.

Immediately following halftime, Boken drained a pair of free-throws and a layup, separated only by an Ezema jumper for the Bombers, to extend the Scranton lead to 48–35. Ezema’s two-pointer gave him 11 on the night, second-most behind Chasin’s 13.

As the second half wore on, the Bombers lack of size became apparent, as the Bombers were outrebounded 25–31 on the defensive boards. The Bombers also had issues with fouls, allowing the Royals a total of 24 free-throw attempts on the night, 20 of which were made.

With 9:34 to play and the Bombers trailing 60–51, the Blue and Gold had a chance to further minimize their deficit, but committed another foul, sending the Royals to the charity stripe once more. Sophomore guard Ethan Danzig would hit one of two shots and extend the Scranton lead to 10, 61–51. Ezema would come down with a defensive rebound on the missed free-throw, but shortly after, sophomore guard Joey Flanagan would commit his second foul of the day. The dangerous Boken, beneficiary of the foul, would go to the line. After sinking both attempts, the senior center staked the Royals to a 63–51 advantage.

With 6:26 remaining in the game and the Bombers trailing 65–53, Chasin was fouled while attempting his sixth three-pointer of the game. The 6-foot-4 guard would nail all three ensuing free-throws, narrowing the deficit to 65–56. A little over a minute later, Flanagan would drain two shots from the line, pulling the Bombers to within 7.

The Bombers seemed to be on their way to a furious comeback, as Chasin and Ezema potted consecutive lay-ups making it 68–63, but Boken would add two more to his bloated point total and Brian Farrell would drain a three-pointer, putting Scranton ahead by 10. Boken would finish the night with 35 points, short of tying his career high.

That three point dagger would end the Bombers hopes of a comeback. Flanagan and Ezema would add layups as time wound down, but at the final buzzer, Scranton would emerge victorious 78–67.

The Bombers suffered their first defeat of the 2015-16 campaign and will make their home debut at 8 p.m. Nov. 20 against Bridgewater State University.

Reed Keller can be reached at rrknyg10@gmail.com or via Twitter: @Reed_Keller