It was a playoff atmosphere Tuesday night at Max Ziel Gymnasium, as fourth-seeded Oswego State took on fifth-seeded The College at Brockport in the SUNYAC Quaterfinals. The Lakers and Golden Eagles battled back and forth for most of the same, but the Lakers pulled out a 78-66 win.
Senior forward Chris Gilkes got the fans into it right away with a great drive to the basket and finish for the Lakers’ first basket of the evening. Gilkes would go on to score 15 points, and led the Lakers at the end of the first half with eight.
Balanced scoring was a big part of the Oswego State victory, as five Lakers finished with at least 12 points. Senior forward Hayden Ward and freshman guard Kyle Covley led the team with 16 each. Ward also contributed by dominating the boards all night, hauling in 16 rebounds. No other player on either side had more than eight rebounds.
After some early defensive struggles led to a 6-0 run by the Golden Eagles, Lakers coach Jason Leone called a timeout, trailing by five with 16:57 still to play in the first half. Leone’s team immediately began to tighten up its defense, and started to feature Ward inside at the offensive end.
Oswego State would finally break even with just under 12 minutes to play in the first half, as senior guard Sean Michele knocked down a three-pointer to tie the game at 14. After a highly contested first half, Oswego State found itself even with Brockport, and the two teams headed to the locker room tied at 34.
Both teams were able to hold the other’s top players relatively in check. Ward finished the first half shooting only 25 percent from the field (3-for-12), while Brockport leading scorer, junior guard John Ivy managed just two first-half points on 1-for-8 shooting.
In the second half, it was Ward and the Lakers who took over the game offensively, scoring on their first four possessions. Golden Eagles junior point guard Brandon Caruthers proved no match for Michele defensively, as Michele was able to easily penetrate into the paint and create easy opportunities for his teammates as well as himself.
Gilkes converted on a pull-up jumper from just inside the arc, giving Oswego State a five-point lead with just under 14 minutes to play. The energized crowd at Max Ziel Gymnasium erupted as Covley hit his second three-pointer of the game to stretch the lead to eight.
With the momentum and the score squarely in their favor, Leone and the Lakers experienced a big scare as Ward was fouled and sent crashing to the floor, following one of his 16 rebounds. After several tense moments, Ward would eventually get up under his own power. Ward would not only stay in the game, but went on to finish the entire second half.
Covley’s fourth three-pointer of the night put the game away for good, as the Lakers took a commanding 68-56 lead with only three minutes left. Brockport’s Ivy did his best to keep his team in the game, scoring 13 points in the second half, and going three-of-five from three-point range. Ivy’s efforts were not enough, however, as the Lakers cruised to a 78-66 victory.
Oswego State will look to keep the momentum going as it hits the road to take on top-seeded Cortland this Friday in the SUNYAC semifinals.
The winner of that game will move on to play the winner of the No. 2 SUNY Plattsburgh/No. 3 SUNY Geneseo game on Saturday at 4 p.m. to decide the 2013 SUNYAC champion.