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Men's basketball ends five points short from SUNYAC title

by Panagiotis Argitis - Editor-in-Chief
Tue, Feb 26th 2019 10:00 pm
Freshman guard Danny Ashley dribbles through the Plattsburgh defense during Brockport's 86-85 semi-final win. Brockport lost the championship match to Oswego 55-50.
Freshman guard Danny Ashley dribbles through the Plattsburgh defense during Brockport's 86-85 semi-final win. Brockport lost the championship match to Oswego 55-50.
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Upon the end of the road to the SUNYAC finals, The College at Brockport men’s basketball team saw its chance at lifting the first regional title in five years slip away by a mere five points. While the final shot clock of the tournament has rung, the season’s journey is one that will remain prominent with the program. 

Similar to the entire stretch of the regular season, Brockport’s postseason consisted of nail-biters and late game drama. A closely-fought 94-88 victory over Potsdam in the quarterfinal round of the tournament saw freshman sensation Danny Ashley drop a career-high 34 points to help his team survive as Brockport marched on to the semi-finals against Plattsburgh. 

The green and gold clinched the third seed for the playoffs, which only guaranteed a home court advantage in the first round of the competition. Plattsburgh, on the other hand, finished second in the race for postseason spots and earned a direct trip to the semi-final rounds. The Cardinals faced Brockport, a team that had not been able to move beyond the SUNYAC semi-finals in over three seasons. 

Despite the pressure against them, the Golden Eagles were unphased from the circumstances and went on to grab a large lead inside 10 minutes of the tip-off, which was maintained into halftime. The team continued to find the basket following the break and went up by as many as 14 points with 15 minutes left in the game. 

Yet, what seemed like a guaranteed trip to the tournament final for Brockport, quickly flopped in the second half. Poor possessions and turnovers from the Golden Eagles allowed the home side to come back and claim the lead, 83-82, with two minutes left to play. When needed most, senior guard Chris Atkinson came up big in the closing parts of the game as he made two free throws, recovered the ball for his team and found sophomore guard Jahidi Wallace, who got fouled but scored with a strong post move. 

Plattsburgh went down the other way with hope to produce a game-winner but Atkinson’s heroic defense saw the team’s effort bounce in-and-out of the rim, handing Brockport an 86-85 victory. Although the contest went down to the wire, the significance of coming back in the clutch was worth the risk. 

“I wouldn’t change anything from that game,” Atkinson said. “We played a hell of a game and I would do it all again if I could. We never gave up and just believed in ourselves.” 

After it broke the streak of being held up by the semi-finals with a thrilling win over the 2018 SUNYAC champs (Plattsburgh), Brockport faced Oswego in the final of the tournament the following day. As for a comparison, Oswego clinched the first seed to Brockport’s third and finished with an overall record of 22—4 to Brockport’s 17—11. 

Despite the superior season of Oswego, the game’s tip-off was followed by a scorching start from Brockport as it led from the front and raised eyebrows from the opposition’s fans on the sidelines. At halftime, Brockport was up by six but its defensive hold broke down after 10 minutes into the second half when Oswego grabbed the lead for the first time. The away side pushed on but was not able to get in reach, falling by a score of 55-50. 

While the performance against Oswego could have benefited from the team’s missing number one option at the four, junior power forward Justin Summers, or less foul trouble, the SUNYACs have concluded. Brockport improved on its past four seasons and finished strong regardless of the final game’s outcome.

Following the conclusion to the regional season, Brockport had the chance to extend its season by recieving a large bid to the 2019 NCAA DIII tournament. Unfortunately for the team, the draw of results that was released on Monday, Feb. 25 at 12 p.m. did not include Brockport in the bracket. Plattsburgh and Oswego were given the two available spots from the region. 

Even though luck was not on Brockport’s side when it came to the national competition, the team’s trip to the 2019 SUNYAC finals will not be overlooked.

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