Top-seeded Lakers eliminate Bears in quarterfinals

The 24th-ranked Oswego State men’s basketball team advanced to the SUNYAC semifinals with a 64-50 win over SUNY Potsdam in the quarterfinal round on Tuesday at Max Ziel Gymnasium.

Led by their star big men, the Lakers jumped out to a 24-10 lead. Junior captain Chad Burridge and sophomore Hayden Ward scored seven points each in the first half, all while attacking the glass and challenging many Potsdam field goal attempts.

The Oswego State lead was down to 29-22, and Potsdam took a 12-5 run into halftime. Potsdam’s Curtis Pierce finished the half with nine points and five rebounds to keep the Bears close.

Heading into the second half, Oswego State received a spark from junior guard Conor Monaghan and the large crowd.

With 12:33 left in the game, Monaghan drove to the basket and was fouled by a Potsdam player. As he finished his offensive move, Monaghan let the ball go up in the air and it rolled perfectly around the cylinder of the rim, falling through the net and putting the Lakers up 13.

Monaghan would then make the free throw he earned, which energized the crowd. Over the course of the next two minutes of game time, Monaghan would punish the Bears with a pair of three-point daggers, extending the Oswego State lead to 18 points.

Despite an impressive second half by Pierce, the Bears proved to be outmatched by the offensive balance of the Lakers. Oswego State would hold the ball and let the clock run down to give the Lakers a postseason victory and advance the number one team in the SUNYAC to the semifinals. Oswego State currently holds a 16-game winning streak.

Pierce finished the game with 18 points, seven rebounds, four steals and two assists. Potsdam also out-rebounded Oswego State by eight.

Monaghan finished the contest with 15 points. Burridge, Oswego State’s leading scorer, ended the game with 13 points and four rebounds. Ward collected a whopping 13 rebounds, along with 12 points. He was the only player for either team to produce a double-double.

The first 400 members of the crowd at Tuesday night’s game received a free Oswego State basketball T-shirt. With just two minutes before tip-off, a line of over 100 last minute attendees flocked to the entrance of the gym, and extended outside past the far doors at the end of Laker Hall.

Oswego State students and faculty filled Max Ziel Gymnasium to the brim with 543 tickets sold. Once the game began, the crowd showed off their size, reacting with a significant amount of gusto and participation from the first tip to the final whistle.

No. 1 seed Oswego State will host No. 4 seed Brockport in the semifinals on Friday, Feb. 25, immediately following No. 2 seed Buffalo State taking on No. 3 seed Plattsburgh at 6 p.m. The winners of the two games will play for the SUNYAC Championship Saturday, Feb. 26, at 4 p.m. The Lakers swept the Golden Eagles in both matchups this season, each decided by eight points or less. Oswego State defeated Brockport, 74-71, on the road before completing the season sweep against the Golden Eagles, 69-61, at home last weekend.

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