The Oswego State men’s basketball team is on a prolific pace to win more games than any Lakers team in the 90-year history of the program, and the success on the court has translated to success in the polls.
According to the NCAA’s official website the Lakers are ranked No. 1 in the Division III East Region as of Feb. 2.
A pair of victories this past week against in-conference rivals SUNY Cortland and SUNY Cobleskill helped Oswego State defend the No. 1 ranking.
The Lakers defeated the Red Dragons on Feb. 4 by a final score of 69-53.
Led by Chad Burridge’s 17 points and 10 rebounds, Oswego State beat Cortland State in almost every major statistical category and won in convincing fashion.
The Oswego State bench, led by Chris Gilkes’ 16-point break out, outscored Cortland State’s bench 35 to 12. Junior guard Conor Monaghan added 11 points and five rebounds off the bench, and backup point guard Brian Gebhardt produced six points, one steal and a team-high two assists.
Cortland was out rebounded 39 to 29, outshot by nearly 15 percent and were outscored in the paint 35 to 12 by the No. 1 ranked Lakers. Oswego State kept Cortland off the foul line for most of the second half, yielding just one made free throw on two attempts in the final 20 minutes of action.
The Lakers traveled to Cobleskill, N.Y. to take on their non-conference foe on Saturday. Despite entering the game as a 9-12 basketball team, Cobleskill did not view themselves as the underdog by any means.
Cobleskill entered the game Monday night having won three of its last four games. Since Dec. 4, Cobleskill has gone 9-6, with all of their games being in conference play. Oswego State quickly learned they would have to bring their A-game if they wished to escape Cobleskill with a victory.
The first half of the game saw seven lead changes, four ties and one lonely basket between the two teams in the final two minutes. Cobleskill held a 33-31 advantage at the end of the first half, led by 54 percent shooting from the field.
Cobleskill’s sharp shooting continued as the second half got under way. Cobleskill shot 53 percent from the field for the game, including eight 3-point shots. Damon Franklin led the Red Dragons with 13 points, six rebounds, two assists and a steal.
The lead went back and forth seven more times in the second half. Oswego State trailed by three points with 2:44 left in the game after a Damion Longmore lay-up gave Cobleskill the 62-59 advantage. However, Oswego State’s defense showed up when they needed it most, holding Cobleskill scoreless for the rest of the game.
That is when Oswego State’s go-to player, and a leading candidate for SUNYAC player of the year, Chad Burridge, took over. Burridge went to the foul line with under a minute to play and swished a pair of foul shots to make it a one-point game.
Finally, on the last possession of the game for Oswego State, Burridge was fed off an inbounds play and drained a jump shot over his defender to give the Lakers a lead they would not relinquish. The final score was 63-62.
Burridge finished with 18 points and four rebounds for the Lakers, while starting point guard, Sean Michele, had a game-high seven assists.
The two February wins gave the Lakers an active 10-game winning streak and brought their record on the season to 17-3. Their current winning percentage of .850 is the highest posted by an Oswego State Men’s Basketball team since the 1961-62 Lakers, under the tutelage of Dr. John V. Glinski, who finished their season with 19 wins and two losses.
Oswego State takes their No. 1 ranking in the Eastern region of Division 3 men’s basketball to Plattsburgh on Feb. 11, as the two best teams in the SUNYAC will battle for the second time this season. Oswego State beat Plattsburgh, in Oswego, on Jan. 15 by a score of 72 to 65.
With the two victories, the Lakers currently sit atop the SUNYAC at 12-1 with five conference games remaining. The Lakers head on the road next weekend to take on SUNY Plattsburgh on Friday, Feb. 11, and SUNY Potsdam on Saturday, Feb. 12. The Cardinals, at 10-3 in conference, are in second place in SUNYAC.