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Men's basketball takes SUNYAC championship going away

by Panagiotis Argitis - Staff Writer
Thu, Mar 5th 2020 04:00 pm
Fifth year Tyler Collins dribbles the ball against SUNY Potsdam on Saturday, Feb. 29, in the SUNYAC championship game. Collins was named MVP of the tournament.
Fifth year Tyler Collins dribbles the ball against SUNY Potsdam on Saturday, Feb. 29, in the SUNYAC championship game. Collins was named MVP of the tournament.

Following a historic regular season finish, capped off by 15 consecutive victories and an almost-perfect conference record of 17—1, The College at Brockport men’s basketball team was crowned 2020 SUNYAC champions, taking its first conference title since 2014 and ninth in program history.

On its road to success, Brockport stayed dominant across the duration of the whole season, which carried over to the team’s first two postseason performances. Prior to the title-deciding game, Brockport came up against defending champion SUNY Oswego on Friday, Feb. 28, in the tournament’s semifinal.

The playoff setting provided a tightly-contested start for both sides, as there were many lead changes early in the game. While the score remained tied at 14 at the midway point of the first half, Brockport quickly opened a double-digit gap after stopping Oswego from scoring in the final four minutes of the period.

With a 15-point lead at the end of halftime, the Golden Eagles further ensured their advantage, building a 20-point edge four minutes into the second period. Oswego was not able to fight its way back into the game, as Brockport held its lead for the remainder of the contest, extending its home record to 12—0 and securing its place in the conference final.

The following day, Brockport took on SUNY Potsdam in the SUNYAC championship game. Potsdam, which stood as the only SUNYAC side to beat Brockport in the regular season, advanced to the tournament final after beating SUNY Oneonta 75-72.

Brockport led from start to finish in the championship game, giving the crowded Jim and John Vlogianitis Gymnasium something to cheer about. Once it secured a double-digit lead around the midpoint of the opening half, Brockport failed to look back on its way to lifting the SUNYAC title. Junior forward Devante Hagins put Brockport ahead by 20 points at the half with a buzzer-beating basket, extending his stat line to 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Despite entering halftime with a comfortable advantage, it was Brockport’s rebounding efforts that were responsible for its lead. The team grabbed 16 offensive rebounds in the first, which made up for its 42% shooting from the floor.

The green and gold continued to pressure Potsdam in the second half, extending the lead to 27 inside the first four minutes of play. With time for a comeback ticking away, Potsdam resorted to fouling for the majority of the half, allowing Brockport to shoot 18-24 from the foul line and control the remainder of the regulation. Fifth year guard Tyler Collins put the final touches on the contest with a game-high 23 points, which was good enough to earn him SUNYAC Tournament MVP.

When the final buzzer sounded, the Golden Eagles were crowned champions, taking down Potsdam 102-75 for their second-highest scoring output of the season. A few moments later Brockport was presented with the SUNYAC trophy as players, fans and spectators joined in celebration.

“We’re super proud of our student body and how they came out, the faculty and staff as well,” head coach Greg Dunne said. “This was a win for the entire community of Brockport.”

At the end of its conference campaign, Brockport managed to rise above the competition, remaining dominant across the entire duration of its contests. Without losing sight of its season objective, the team stood clear of any distraction and capitalized on the obstacles it failed to overcome in the previous four years. Claiming the conference title rests as the result of Brockport’s commitment to a single goal.

“We have all worked our whole lives for this moment,” Collins said. “We came down in the last couple of years and to finally win is a blessing. Me and these guys couldn’t be happier for our team.”

As a result of being this year’s SUNYAC champion, Brockport booked its ticket to the Division III NCAA Tournament. Brockport will host the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament and take on the Coast Guard Academy (CGA), with Middlebury College and Westfield State University squaring off in the other first round contest.

While CGA holds an overall record of 14—13, it took down three nationally-ranked teams on its way to claiming the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) championship. The winner between Brockport and CGA will advance onto the second round of the tournament the following day.

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Taken by Vincent Croce:
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