The men’s basketball team went with the big lineup and recorded an even bigger win as they defeated 20th-ranked Stevens 80-69 Friday night at the Ben Light Gymnasium.
The Bombers (12–4, 7–1) scored the final 12 points of the first half to turn an eight point deficit into a four point lead which they maintained. It is the second straight loss for the Ducks (14–3, 5–2) who now sit a game and a half behind the Bombers for first place in the Empire 8.
In a matchup of two of the best guards in the conference, it was senior guard Sean Rossi who came out on top. He hit four threes in the first half and eventually finished with 12 points. His opposite, Ducks senior guard Russ Thompson, did not record a basket until the 7:26 mark of the second half and finished with nine points. Rossi said it felt good to get the better of Thompson.
“We’re both Jersey kids,” Rossi said. “I’ve known him since high school and while we’re friendly on the court, it felt great that we shut him down.”
Junior forward Frank Mitchell led the Bombers with 19 points. Junior center Tom Sweeney added nine points as he got the start over senior forward Travis Warech, who was sidelined for much of the week with an infection. Mitchell said Ducks sophomore forward Patrick Sabatino’s early foul trouble played a big role in his success down low.
“Once he got in foul trouble, we focused on getting the ball down low and it worked out for us,” Mitchell said.
The Bombers have a quick turnaround, as they take on Hartwick College. The Hawks (11–7, 3–4) were defeated 88-62 by Elmira College on Friday night in what was one of four underdog victories in the Empire 8. Bombers Head Coach Jim Mullins said the Empire 8 is as unpredictable as ever.
“All kinds of good teams have four losses and I think as the year goes on they’re all going to beat up on each other,” Mullins said. “There’s just so much basketball left to play we have half our schedule remaining.”
The Bombers will be without senior forward Andrei Oztemel who sprained his left ankle late in the game last night. Mullins said the trainers believe it is only a sprain, which would sideline him for at least one game.