SAGE MEN'S BASKETBALL TEAM ADVANCES TO SKYLINE FINALS AFTER BEATING SUNY-OLD WESTBURY, 92-74; GATORS TO HOST ST. JOSEPH'S IN FINALS
Albany, NY –Top seeded Sage's men's basketball team posted the program's first Skyline Conference Tournament win on Thursday night as the Gators beat #4 seeded SUNY-Old Westbury, 92-74 in Kahl Gym. With the semifinal victory, the Gators will host the Skyline Conference Championship on February 28 at 2 p.m. facing the No. 2 seeded Golden Eagles of the St. Joseph's College (LI) after they beat College of Mt. St. Vincent, 58-41.
Sage is now 22-4 on the year riding a school-record 10-game win streak and will be making the program's first appearance in the finals. Now 12-0 at home this season, the Gators will host SJC for the finals with the victor collecting the Skyline's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Sage led 48-27 at the break as 2014-2015 Skyline Conference player of the year, senior forward Kai Deans (Miami, FL/Monsignor Pace) added 14 points with five rebounds and three blocked shots. By game's end, Deans had 18 points and a Sage single-game mark for most blocked shots with seven. The program's all-time leading scorer for a single-season, he has 440 points this season. He has 798 points and is the No. 4 all-time leading scorer in program history.
Sophomore forward Marcus Patterson (Bronx, NY/Mount Saint Michael Academy) added 14 points off the bench with a pair of blocked shots, while senior tri-captain Jacob Sopchak (Rhinebeck, NY/Rhinebeck) finished with 10 points and a team-best 11 rebounds, while also blocking four shots in the action. Sopchak now has 114 career blocks as the Gators' all-time leading shot blocker.
Senior tri-captain Troy Nwanna (Washington, DC/Mercersburg Academy) added 11 points and made 8-of-10 free throws to help the Gators. Junior Melvin Ford (Voorhees, NJ/Eastern Regional) also finished with 11 points for Sage with eight rebounds.
All told, Sage combined for 14 blocks, another single-game record bettering the old standard of 12 done on two previous occasions. 11 different players scored in the victory and helped the squad shoot an impressive 55.9% from the floor (33-59).
For OW, Luckens Victor paced Old Westbury with his second-career double-double, racking up 16 points and a career-high 14 rebounds. Walters poured in a team-leading 19 points while Floyd Leroy scored all 15 of his points in the second half and added 11 rebounds to register his third double-double of the season. Dom Bostick added eight points and five rebounds off the bench while Omari Trebuse dished six assists.
Old Westbury went to Victor early, scoring six of the Panthers' first eight points to go up 8-7 with 16:01 remaining on the first-half clock. Jaquan Potter then checked into the game off the Panthers bench and knocked down a three pointer to put Old Westbury up 13-9. Following a triple by Omari Trebuse, Sage answered with a 12-1 run to take a 24-17 lead with 10:22 left. Victor flushed home his third dunk of the game at 9:01 to make it a five-point game (26-21). Sage replied with a six unanswered points to stretch its lead to 11 points (32-21) with 7:39 remaining. Walters' layup trimmed Old Westbury's deficit to seven points before Brett Ullman connected on a pair of triples as part of a 14-0 Gator run for a 21-point lead (46-25). Nat Vaughan sank a pair of free throws to stop the run with 49 seconds left as Sage took a 48-27 lead into the half. Sage connected on 21-of-28 field-goal attempts in the opening half compared to Old Westbury's 11-of-36 effort.
Both teams played even for the opening minutes of the second half until Robinson sank a jumper with 13:24 left to extend Sage's lead to 25 (59-34). Potter landed a pair of free throws to cut Old Westbury's deficit to 20 points (62-42) with 11:12 remaining. Sage then used a 7-0 run from 11:00 to 9:05 to take a game-high 27-point lead. Old Westbury pulled within 16 points, but were unable to overcome the first-half deficit.
In the end, Old Westbury shot 23.2 percent from the field (19-82), 24 percent from three-point range (6-25) and 71.4 percent from the free-throw line (30-42) while Sage hit 55.9 percent from the floor (33-59), 30.8 percent from beyond the arc (4-13) and 51.2 percent from the charity stripe (22-43). Old Westbury won the boards battle, 56-53, scoring 26 second-chance points off a season-high 32 offensive rebounds.