Men’s Basketball Ends Thanksgiving Break With a Win

Brooke Tracey, Contributing Writer 

The Bison Men’s Basketball team faced a series of tough matches since University students departed campus for Thanksgiving break. To kick off the first of five matches, the Bison earned their first win of the season in Sojka Pavilion against Rider on Wednesday, Nov. 17. Fresh off of this victory, the Orange and Blue traveled to the Cancun Challenge from Nov. 20-24, where they faced Illinois State and Mercer, along with a rematch against Rider. To conclude the break, the Bison returned to Sojka Pavilion on Sunday, Nov. 28 to earn an overtime victory against Siena. 

In the Bisons’ first match-up against Rider at Sojka, the Orange and Blue exerted a full team effort, edging past the Broncs 81-74. The majority of points scored by the Bison came from three players: Xander Rice ’23 (23 points), Andre Screen ’24 (20 points), and Malachi Rhodes ’23 (11 points). After conceding their 15-point first-half lead, the Bison remained resilient and fought their way back on top. A key defensive performance by Rhodes in the last 16 minutes of the game greatly helped lead the Bison to victory. 

After their home win, the Orange and Blue packed their bags up and headed west to compete in the Cancun Challenge. They first faced Illinois State on Nov. 20 in a heated, high-scoring game. While Andrew Funk ’22 scored a career-high of 38 points, the Bison could not quite pull through in overtime, losing by a close margin of 105-100. Despite the loss, this is the most points the Bison have put up so far this season. Three days later, the Orange and Blue returned to the court, this time facing Mercer. In his first career start, Alex Timmerman ’23 led the Bison with 22 points, closely followed by Rice with 20 points and Funk with 16 points. Even with this, the Bison could not out-score the Bears, falling 78-68. In their final match of the tournament, the Bison and Broncs faced each other again, just one week later. This time Rider came out on top, winning by a score of 85-79.

The Bison closed out the Thanksgiving weekend with one final match at Sojka Pavilion on Sunday, Nov. 28 against Siena. In nail-biting overtime, the Bison defense remained strong, leading to a 65-56 victory. Timmerman once again led the team in points (20) followed by Rice with 11. 

When asked about how the team has progressed thus far in the season, Timmerman said, “the biggest thing about these last couple of games is that [the team] is getting more comfortable and familiar with playing with each other which is pretty typical of any early season.” He also wanted to give “a shout out to the fans at the first couple home games” for showing their support and making it a fun atmosphere. 

The Bison look to better their 2-5 record on the road against Saint Francis (Pa.) on Wednesday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. The Orange and Blue will remain on the road at Hofstra (Dec. 4) and Princeton (Dec. 7) until they return to Sojka on Dec. 18 to face La Salle. 

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