Albany, NY – The Sage Colleges' men's basketball team hosted the Panthers of SUNY-Old Westbury on Saturday afternoon in the final Skyline Conference regular-season contest of the year with the victor gaining home court for the first round of the 2014 Skyline Conference Tournament in a rematch of these same two teams. Sage tallied a 77-57 win to earn a home game for the playoffs, a first in the five-year old men's program at Sage. Sage improves to 15-10 overall and finishes conference play with a program-best 11-7 record. SUNY-Old Westbury drops to 14-11 overall and 10-8 in the league.
Prior to the game Sage honored their 2014 seniors in conjunction with Senior Day. The talented foursome includes graduate student Jeff Stopera (Scotia, NY/Scotia Glenville), and seniors Ryan LaBelle (East Berne, NY/Berne-Knox-Westerlo), Denzel Paschal (East Greenbush, NY/Catholic Central), and Mason Horne (Albany, NY/LaSalle Institute).
The Gators took a 44-29 lead at the break as they held the Panthers to just 20% shooting from three-point range (4-20). Leading the way for Sage was junior Kai Deans (Miami, FL/Monsignor Pace) with 12 points and two blocked shots. Stopera added eight points with four rebounds and four assists in the first half as Sage shot 50.0% from the floor (14-28) and held a 29-19 edge on the boards.
Old Westbury's junior guard Ray Parker (Bronx, NY/Stone Bridge) led the way in the first half with nine points and three steals.
Deans finished with a double-double his seventh of the year as he had 16 points with 11 rebounds and four blocks. Joining him in double-digits was LaBelle and junior center Jacob Sopchak (Rhinebeck, NY/Rhinebeck) with 11 points each, while LaBelle had four assists and three steals. Sopchak added seven rebounds for Sage as they held a commanding lead on the boards, 54-30. Paschal added nine points, while Stopera finished with eight points, seven rebounds and six assists.
OW's junior guard Omari Trebuse (Brooklyn, NY/Mt. Zion Christian Academy) added 14 points with two assists and three steals. Parker tallied 11 points with three steals, while freshman center Mark Gjonlekaj (Roslyn, NY/Roslyn) added nine points and a team-best eight rebounds.
The Gators will be back in action on February 25 facing hosting SUNY-Old Westbury at 7 p.m. in Kahl Gym. The two teams will meet in the quarterfinals of the 2014 Skyline Conference Tournament, with the victor advancing to the semifinals on Thursday, February 27 at top seeded Purchase College.