March 20, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 49°F


Top-seeded men’s basketball falls to RPI in conference semifinals

The Ithaca College men’s basketball team lost to the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Engineers 49–44 in the Liberty League Semifinals on Feb. 24 in the Ben Light Gymnasium.

The Bombers were led by sophomore guard Logan Wendell, who recorded nine points, five rebounds and two assists. Graduate student guard George Sikoryak lll added eight points, three rebounds and two steals, while graduate student guard Skylar Sinon recorded eight points.

The Engineers were led by graduate student guard Dom Black, who recorded 14 points, nine rebounds, three blocks and three steals. Senior forward Jonny Angbazo added 12 points and nine rebounds.

The Bombers’ bench celebrates following a basket during the team’s loss to RPI in the conference semifinals. ABBY BRADY/THE ITHACAN

The Bombers got off to a slow start, giving up two quick baskets to Angbazo and Black to make it a 4–0 game at the 17:50 mark in the first half.

The Bombers slowly fought back to within one point when Sinon showed off his flashy passing skill set with a crafty behind-the-head midair pass to graduate student forward Luka Radovich, who finished the play with a layup to make the game 9–8 with 11:10 remaining in the first half.

The Bombers held strong on defense, only allowing two more points to the Engineers in a five-minute span, but endured their own scoreless streak in those five minutes. The streak was broken when Bombers’ junior guard Noah Downing went up with a tough floater while being fouled. Downing hit both free throws and made the score 16–12 with 3:34 remaining in the first half.

With 35 seconds remaining in the first half, the Bombers finally found life from the 3-point line. Radovich fired a pass to Sinon who nailed the Bombers’ first three of the game from the top of the arc to make it 24–17 Engineers.

The Bombers entered the half trailing 26–17.

Defense was the key for both teams in the first half and it became the energizer for the Bombers in the second half. The Bombers forced the Engineers into two straight shot clock violations that sent the Bomber faithful into a frenzy. This led to a baseline layup from graduate student guard Zach Warech, cutting the Engineers’ lead to 28–23 with 16:27 remaining.

The Bombers traded baskets with the Engineers for the next five minutes, with the Bombers slowly coming within striking range. With 11:10 remaining junior guard Triston Wennersten connected with Sinon sitting in the corner for an open 3-pointer, making the score 35–33.

The Bombers’ graduate student guard Skylar Sinon shoots a 3-pointer over the Engineers’ junior forward Avery Eugster. ABBY BRADY/THE ITHACAN

Sinon came through for the team again, hitting a jumper from the free throw line to make the score 41–39 with 4:25 remaining and tied the game for the Bombers after being fouled hard by an Engineer defender. Sinon exited the game due to an injury during the foul and Sikoryak made both free throws for him.

The Bombers took their first and only lead when Wennersten grabbed a rebound and burst into a fastbreak, making an and-1 layup over a fouling defender on the other end making it 44–41 Bombers.

Unfortunately for the Bombers, Engineers junior guard Chuck Clemons hit a game-tying 3-pointer with 3:02 remaining and the Engineers put away the game with free throws. 

After a tough loss, head coach Waleed Farid expressed how proud he was of his team after the hard-fought season that gave the Bombers the top seed in the Liberty League.

“I’m extremely proud of these guys,” Farid said. “There wasn’t a game we didn’t give our all and tonight was probably some of the best defense we’ve played, we just didn’t have it on the offensive side against a really good team and a really good defense.”

Going further, Farid said that the team is a special group and he’s proud of what they accomplished. 

“This game doesn’t change the outlook of our season or how we feel about our season,” Farid said. “We accomplished some things. This is a special group and I’m extremely proud of these guys. I’m lucky to be their coach. It was a tough way to go out … but we’re going to hold our heads high.”