Coming into today’s matchup against the Hartwick College Hawks on Feb. 20, the stakes were high for the men’s basketball squad.
The team had just dropped an 84–75 contest to Utica College the night before and watched as its conference record dropped to below .500 on the season. In the blink of an eye, the team’s hopes of making the Empire 8 playoffs were diminished drastically, as well as the chance of making the ECAC’s. To top it off, it was not only Senior Day in honor of four-year varsity letter winner Sam Bevan, but it was also quite possibly his last game in a Bomber uniform.
However, when it came down to it, there was still a game to be played. In the end the Hawks came out on top in a 101–87 win over the Bombers to conclude their 2015–16 campaign. And just like that, all of those stakes seemed all too real.
Hartwick senior Trevor Norton scored a game-high 32 points in 37 minutes, where he shot 62.5 percent from the field, 6-of-10 from the 3 -point line and made all six of his free throws.
Bevan tallied a double-double with 12 points and 11 assists. Before the game, he said a few words of inspiration in preparation for tip-off as his teammates clapped and shouted with glee before they huddled around the lone senior.
The Strafford, Pennsylvania, native now ranks fifth all-time in program history with 378 and leads the Empire 8 Conference in assists per game with 6.4 assists per game.
Bevan began the game with his familiar skill on a pass to freshman Peter Ezema for a layup to get the ball rolling.
A 3-pointer by Norton put Hartwick up 8–4 at the 17:59 mark in the game. And after a miscue of misses and turnovers by both squads, it turned into a three-minute scoring drought before a layup by sophomore Marc Rozynes-Chasin cut the lead to one.
In the first 13 minutes of the game, neither team led by more than four points at a time. With 7:07 left to go in the first half, a 3-pointer by Rozynes-Chasin put the Bombers up 32–25 before the Hawks came storming back.
With almost a minute left, the Bombers began to increase their lead after a 3-pointer by junior Carlin Champion. Soon enough it was 47–38 Bombers and that is how the half would end.
From the looks of it, it seemed as though the Bombers were going to pull off a win over the third-place Hartwick Hawks and have a shot at the Empire 8 tournament. They would need a loss by Stevens Institute of Technology, which took on St. John Fisher College, in order to break the tie.
The Ducks would drop their season finale to the Cardinals 68–66 Feb. 20, however it would not matter.
Hartwick would go on a 8–0 run to begin the second half and would never look back. The Hawks scored 63 points, the most by an opponent in a half against the Bombers this season. Five Hawks scored double-digits as a team effort, led by Norton, led the crusade in the second half.
Chasin paced the Blue and Gold’s scoring with 26 of his own, including 10-of-17 in field goals. Ezema racked up nine rebounds to improve his season total to 286 and added four steals. The 6”2’ rookie is ranked 11th in the Division III nation in total rebounds.