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Men's basketball begins SUNYAC journey at 1—1

by Panagiotis Argitis - Managing Editor
Wed, Dec 5th 2018 01:00 pm
The College at Brockport men's basketball team split its first two conference games of the 2018-2019 season against Cortland and Oswego. Sophomore guard Xavier Merriweather raises the ball above his head before releasing it for a free throw.
The College at Brockport men's basketball team split its first two conference games of the 2018-2019 season against Cortland and Oswego. Sophomore guard Xavier Merriweather raises the ball above his head before releasing it for a free throw.
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The road to success is never perfectly paved. Following three convincing performances during the first three contests of the season, all of which were against non-conference opposition, The College at Brockport men’s basketball team opened its 2018-19 SUNYAC play with a victory over archrival Cortland and defeat to Oswego. 

Prior to the first weekend of SUNYAC play, Brockport found its rhythm through two quick wins to start off the season. A minor setback of pace followed after losing 61-49 to one of New York’s best basketball programs, Baruch College. 

Despite having lost the first game of the campaign right before the tip-off of conference play, Brockport handed Cortland its first loss of the season away from home court on Friday, Nov. 30. The SUNYAC opener was a battle for both teams. The contest acted as a proving ground for both sides because of last year’s final meeting between the teams. Cortland and Brockport’s last matchup ended in the Red Dragons’ favor after beating the Golden Eagles in a nail-biting 85-84 win. 

This season’s meeting saw an equal share of possessions across the opening half, with both teams looking to edge the other out. Brockport was the first to get on the board thanks to a dunk from sophomore guard Devante Hagins. Senior guard Tyler Collins followed with a splash from downtown shortly after to extend the lead to five. The away side managed to hold on to the lead until the halfway mark of the first where Cortland took began to take control. Despite the defensive effort from the Red Dragons, the Golden Eagles’ combination of Collins and senior guard Chris Atkinson tallied 19 points and five steals, which was good enough for a 40-37 lead at halftime. 

Junior power forward Justin Summers was the spark of the second half as he scored 17 of his 19 points in the closing installment. 10 for 29 shooting from the field compared to the home side’s 10-34 and the four extra turnover recoveries is what allowed Brockport to outperform Cortland and cruise to a 78-69 victory. 

The bright start to the weekend ended prematurely as Brockport encountered the first hump of the road. After a confident display at Cortland, the team fell to Oswego the next day by 10 points, which marked the team’s first loss in the SUNYAC and the second for the overall season. 

The Green and Gold was greeted by a red-hot Oswego team which entered the ballgame with an undefeated overall record of 5—0. While the argument of Oswego’s weaker non-conference schedule compared to that of Brockport’s could be made, Oswego was riding a wave of confidence, a quality that Brockport did not have during the contest. The early possessions of the game went to Oswego’s favor, as it racked up the boards fast and left Brockport behind by seven points in the opening three minutes. The closest Brockport came to the lead was during the last five minutes of the first after two made free throws from Hagins evened the score at 27. Trading of baskets followed and halftime saw Oswego lead 38-35. 

Oswego’s shooting outshined Brockport’s in the first quarter, with close to a 10 percent greater efficiency from the floor at 54.2 percent compared to the 44.8 percent managed by Brockport. This did not repeat into the second half, but left Brockport with a big hole to climb out of. 

Brockport stumbled into the closing period, but after three minutes and four missed shots later, the team finally grabbed a point, decreasing the deficit to nine. To Brockport’s advantage, the opposing side was not hitting its shots either which allowed for the Golden Eagles to battle back and tie the game with 10 minutes left. Their efforts did not suffice and following a series of miss-handled possessions, Oswego claimed the victory, 73-63. 

For the teams who have played at least two conference games, The Golden Eagles have the third worst FG%, the second worst 3FG% and the worst FT%. While the offensive side of the team is suffering, the defensive side is flourishing. The team averages the third most rebounds, second most steals and the most blocks per game. 

Despite what the numbers suggest, SUNYAC play has only just begun, but the team will need to find the basket at a greater efficiency in order to move past the conference competition. 

“We are taking the wrong shots at the moment,” Collins said. “Another thing is free throws. We went 13 for 32 from the line against Oswego which makes it extremely hard to win a basketball game.”

As of Wednesday, Dec. 5, the Golden Eagles’ next challenge is a consecutive SUNYAC game weekend against Plattsburgh on Friday, Dec. 7 and Potsdam the next day. Both oppositions are perfect in the conference and Brockport will look to avoid a repeat of Oswego.

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Taken by Vincent Croce:
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