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Men's basketball uses defense to start season strong

by Panagiotis Argitis - Editor-in-Chief
Tue, Dec 3rd 2019 03:00 pm
Senior Justin Summers jumps in a group of people to grab a rebound against Hobart College on Tuesday, Nov. 19.
Senior Justin Summers jumps in a group of people to grab a rebound against Hobart College on Tuesday, Nov. 19.

Following a pair of victories after its season-opening 2-point loss to Morrisville State College, The College at Brockport men’s basketball team secured its third straight win against Salisbury University to gain momentum ahead of the beginning of its conference season. 

At the end of Brockport’s first batch of non-conference action before its SUNYAC opener against SUNY Oswego this weekend, the team walked away with three victories and one loss, placing it amongst the top teams in its conference across the preliminary stage of the season.  

Inside that period, Brockport’s group adjusted following its season-opening defeat and went on to defeat Hobart College, Medaille College and most recently Salisbury. 

In its return to winning ways, the team’s ability to hold onto its advantages propelled it forward, a theme that bogged Brockport down as in its lone loss. 

“It made a big difference,” junior guard Antonio Alvarez said. “Sticking to defense in the last seconds is something we need to improve in order to close out with wins.”

In similar fashion to its performance against Hobart and Medaille, Brockport attained the lead in its latest win over Salisbury early and withheld any opposition until the end. The contest was played on Sunday, Dec. 1 at 1 p.m. at Salisbury. 

Despite a tight battle between the sides’ offenses throughout the initial minutes of play, Brockport was able to break out from the reach of Salisbury following complete performances from both starters and backups to place the team with a 6-point lead at the halftime break. 

Brockport’s momentum carried over to the second period of the game as it managed to squeeze an 11-point lead after the start of the half. Nevertheless, Salisbury’s recovery off of Brockport’s turnovers allowed it to pick away at the deficit to eventually tie up the match three minutes after being down double figures.

Following a number of lead trades between the two sides across the middle portion of the half, Brockport junior guard Malick Sylla allowed his team to take an advantage and maintain it until the final buzzer. Sylla’s off-the-bench heroics included a season-high 18 points along with defensive contributions that led Brockport’s charge forward. 

Brockport’s 75-69 victory over Salisbury cemented the team’s stride toward the opening of this season’s conference schedule and further extended its winning run. 

“We have definitely built momentum, which is huge,” fifth year guard Tyler Collins said. “Most importantly, these first games have shown us what we need to continue to work on before getting into conference play. The biggest target right now is Oswego after the tough loss in the championship last season.” 

At the end of its previous campaign, Brockport was stopped in the finals of the SUNYAC Tournament by Oswego. The Lakers won the matchup by five points. As it currently stands, Oswego is undefeated with four wins and boasts one of the top scoring efficiency records in the league. In order to combat the opposition’s scoring streak this weekend, Brockport will look to solidify on the defensive end in an effort to match Oswego’s fire power and get an early leg up in conference play.  

While Brockport’s season has only begun, the conference schedule stretches and overlaps with non-conference contests for the first half of the campaign, which could pose a challenge. Brockport will face Oswego and SUNY Cortland on back-to-back days followed by a non-conference tournament in Florida before traveling back to Brockport to compete in the remainder of SUNYAC contests at the start of January. 

Regardless of the team’s future matchups, its focus remains with topping Oswego and building off its conference run. The Golden Eagles are set to face the Lakers on Friday, Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m. in Brockport.

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Taken by Vinny Croce:
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