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Last minute NCAA bid keeps men's BBall season alive

by Panagiotis Argitis
Tue, Feb 27th 2018 09:00 pm
The College at Brockport men's basketball team (above) gets together before the tip-off agaainst Cortland. The team had an amazing season, going 14—4 in the conference and claimed a second seed finish in the SUNYAC standings. Despite its third consecutive elimination from the semifinal round of the SUNYAC tournament, the team's season is set to continue following an NCAA appearance this weekend.
The College at Brockport men's basketball team (above) gets together before the tip-off agaainst Cortland. The team had an amazing season, going 14—4 in the conference and claimed a second seed finish in the SUNYAC standings. Despite its third consecutive elimination from the semifinal round of the SUNYAC tournament, the team's season is set to continue following an NCAA appearance this weekend.

There is more to bringing home a championship than pure winning numbers and a good record. It’s about crunch time. This past weekend, The College at Brockport men’s basketball team concluded its 2017-18 playoff run with a heartbreaking five point SUNYAC semifinal loss to Oneonta, the same team that knocked Brockport out of the same round last year. 

The fact that the Golden Eagles had a spectacular season goes without question. They absolutely bossed competition, finishing with a superior conference record of 14—4 and establishing a superpower status with a second seed ending to the SUNYAC leaderboards. In addition to the team’s high-caliber record tallies, Brockport dominated in almost every single category of the statsheet. Points per game, field-goal percentage, assist total, steals and blocks were all better on average than the rest of the Golden Eagles’ competition thus far. 

Despite the undoubtable quality of performances that the team produced this year, its efforts of claiming the 2018 SUNYAC title after Friday, Feb. 23 seemed to have fallen short; again. This season marked the third consecutive year of Brockport’s inability to come out of the SUNYAC semifinal round owning the higher number of baskets. The pattern of coming up short has been evident for quite some time now, and regardless of Brockport’s repeated success throughout division play, the clutch factor against tournament competition has been the missing puzzle piece that the team has been dying to put together. 

Brockport enjoyed a healthy record of 1—1 against the SUNY Oneonta Red Dragons throughout the regular season, falling by a mere four points during its first meeting and authorizing a 17 point victory in the second. Oneonta was the last team to claim a spot in this year’s SUNYAC tournament, finishing with an under .500 winning percentage and a sixth seed spot. But the Red Dragons’ SUNYAC reputation is renowned for its great track record and especially for its blow-up ability, which they proved versus Brockport for the second year running. 

The team’s SUNYAC semifinal trip to Plattsburgh was automatically secured by its second place finish in the standings. Oneonta came up against Brockport on the back of a thrilling quarter final win of 60 to 57 against third seed Cortland, but despite playing an extra game than Brockport, its energy during the semis was not lacking at all. 

The second annual semis battle between Brockport and Oneonta tipped off and had both head coaches along with every single spectator on the edge of their seats until the very last buzzer. Back-to-back trading of buckets went on for the first five minutes of play but the Red Dragons started heating up, leading by eight points at the 10 minute mark. Brockport’s efforts of claiming the lead did not amount to it, but an impressive offensive run from the team’s elite point-guard Hamed Shamseldin slowed Oneonta down, splitting the Red Dragon’s lead in half at the halftime break. 

The second half was not on Brockport’s side. The team failed to make decisive stops and instead gave the ball away, which tremendously aided Oneonta’s offensive prowess. With only eight minutes to play, Brockport’s defensive faults saw its deficit increase to 12 points, but the mounting pressure did not get to the team’s head. Brockport fought back, and with the help of junior shooting specialist Tyler Collins and Shamseldin’s downtown shots, the Golden Eagles found themselves five points down. The last two minutes of play were filled with energy and last ditch efforts, but the make or break situation got the best of Brockport as Oneonta was able to hold on to its five point lead. The last buzzer of the match sounded and hope for Brockport was gone. The team got officially eliminated by Oneonta in a final scoreline of 82 to 77. The Red Dragons deserved to progress through the final round. They beat Cortland and Brockport, two sides that finished ahead of them in standings, and dominated Brockport in every single category of the semifinal match. 

Following its fourth consecutive fall-out of the SUNYAC tournament, Brockport’s fate for the conclusion of the 2017-18 season seemed decided, but that all changed two days after the team’s loss to Oneonta. To everyone’s surprise, Brockport was miraculously picked for the NCAA tournament. That’s correct, the NCAA tournament. Brockport’s hard work did not go to waste. The team’s second seed finish in the SUNYAC standings included a slim chance at a selected bid for the Division III NCAA competition. 

The last time that Brockport made an appearance at the prestige tournament was four years ago when it went up against Morrisville College and came short of a win by a mere three points. 

Although the Golden Eagles failed to get past the semifinal round of the SUNYAC playoffs for a third year running despite their incredible regular campaign success, dedication paid off. The team will get another shot to prove itself this season. The possibility of a rebound from its three-year losing streak on the last stride is all up to the team’s hands. 

The team’s debut game of the NCAA competition is scheduled to take place on Friday, March 3, at Baltimore, Maryland, against the heavy weight RIT Engineers. The Engineers are the 25th best ranked team in the nation and they are coming off their program’s sixth NEWMAC Championship title. This match will be Brockport’s biggest test of the year.

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