In the second week back from its shortened winter break, the men’s basketball team looked to improve its conference record against teams at the top and bottom of the Empire 8 standings, but instead the Bombers took more steps backward than they did forward.
The Bombers began play this week Jan. 12 with a home matchup against the 2–10 Elmira College Soaring Eagles. Despite their poor record, the Soaring Eagles gave the Bombers some problems, but the South Hill squad was able to pull away late and beat them 77–73. The win gave the Bombers their third Empire 8 conference win of the season.
Sophomore guard Carroll Rich led the Bombers with 17 points, hitting 6–12 shots from the floor and going 1–2 from 3-point range. Senior guard Sam Bevan and sophomore guard Marc Chasin each had team-high four assists.
As a team, the Bombers shot 43.3 percent from the floor and 27.8 percent from 3-point range. Both statistics were below average for the South Hill squad, which for the season has shot 47.5 percent from the floor and 37.3 percent from 3-point range.
The Bombers led going into halftime 37–29. However, with approximately eight minutes to go in the game, the Soaring Eagles made a comeback to tie the game at 54.
The Bombers and Soaring Eagles would go point for point for the next several minutes until the Bombers pulled away with 4:31 left in the game when they took a 60–58 advantage. The South Hill squad led for the remainder of the game, and with some key free throws from freshman guard Jake Mitchell in the final 10 seconds the Bombers secured the victory.
After their victory against Elmira, the Bombers traveled to Rochester, New York, on Jan. 16 for a conference matchup against the St. John Fisher College Cardinals. It was the first time the two teams had matched up against one another since the 2015 Empire 8 semi-finals, where the Cardinals defeated the Bombers 90–75. The Bombers came away empty-handed, as they were defeated 89–81 in regulation.
Sophomore guard Joey Flanagan led all Bomber scorers with 24 points off the bench in the loss. Bevan led the team for the second consecutive game in assists with five.
The Bombers were only ahead of St. John Fisher three times throughout the whole game, all of which happened in the first six minutes of the competition. At the 13:22 mark of the first half, the Cardinals re-took the lead and never looked back. Led by senior guard Tyler Hart with 25 points, the Cardinals took the Bombers into halftime up 15 on their home court 52–37.
The Bombers fell behind by as many as 21 points in the second half, but began to chip away at their large defect after a Bevan 3-pointer with 17:46 to go in the game. Despite the Bombers cutting the lead to as little as four points with 31 seconds to go, the Bombers would run out of time falling nine points short. They have not beaten the Cardinals in Rochester in over three seasons, including playoffs.
With the loss to St. John Fisher, the men’s basketball team is now 3–3 in conference play with an overall record of 9–5. The Bombers now fall into a tie with Alfred University for fourth place in the Empire 8 standings, one game ahead of Stevens Institute of Technology for the final playoff spot with 11 games remaining on their schedule.
The Bombers will look to continue their hunt for a playoff spot Jan. 19 when they travel to Clinton, New York, for a non-conference matchup against Hamilton College.