Men’s basketball sinks 70-60 victory over Patriot League newcomer Loyola

Ajan Caneda, Senior Writer

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The men’s basketball team defeated Patriot League newcomer Loyola (Md.) 70-60 in Sojka Pavilion on Jan. 22. The Bison also suffered a 74-67 loss to Army at West Point on Jan. 19. The Orange and Blue are 9-9 overall with a 4-3 record in conference play.

“The Patriot League is extremely competitive this year. Every night you know you are going into a battle. Every team can be beaten on any given night,” Chris Hass ’16 said.“I feel like we need to improve on our defense and just fluidity on offense.”

Hass, who has had a breakout sophomore season, was sidelined in the Loyola game due to a knee injury.

Steven Kaspar ’15 showcased his solid passing repertoire early against the Greyhounds, setting up Ben Brackney ’14 and Ryan Frazier ’16 for a pair of opening three pointers.

The Bison pushed their lead to 10 several times in the first half behind several hustle plays. Brackney tipped in a basket after a missed shot and answered a Loyola three at the 5:20 mark to maintain the momentum. Loyola eventually cut the deficit to one, but Cameron Ayers ’14 drained a buzzer-beating jumper at the half to give the Orange and Blue a 31-28 edge.

“We played hard on both sides of the court,” Frazier said. “I’m excited about our team and how good we can become by the end of the year.”

Kaspar continued his sensational passing in the second half, dishing one of his eight assists to graduate student Brian Fitzpatrick for an emphatic opening dunk. The Greyhounds eventually regained the lead with a three-point shot at the 17:37 mark. Over five minutes later, Brackney nailed three straight free throws to take back a lead that the Bison would not relinquish.

Ayers, Kaspar, Frazier, Fitzpatrick, and Dom Hoffman ’16 all came up with second half blocks to stifle Loyola who had three players foul out of the game. Kaspar finished off a solid night with his second steal of the game and the Bison sunk several late free throws to cap the win.

Ayers was 10-10 from the free throw line and scored a team-high 19 points. Brackney finished with 14 and Fitzpatrick rounded out the double-digit scorers with 12 points and six rebounds.

Army proved to be a league contender with a strong effort against the defending Patriot League champions at West Point. Fitzpatrick shot a perfect 8-8 from the field for 17 points, but the Black Knights nailed several opportune three-pointers to stop the Bison’s momentum.

The Orange and Blue began the game with a shooting barrage, as Brackney sunk a pair of long-range threes to ignite the scoring for the Bison. Hass continued the hot shooting with another three to give the Bison an 11-4 advantage. Unfortunately, Army eventually regained the lead and engineered a 10-0 run that pushed the deficit to 11 with 2:21 left in the first half. Frazier drained a three-pointer to bring the Bison within seven at halftime.

Both teams battled hard during the first 10 minutes of the second half with the Bison chipping away at Army’s lead and keeping the game within single digits. Fitzpatrick delivered a layup off a nice spin move at the 9:30 mark to give the Orange and Blue their first lead of the second half.

With the score at 53-52 in favor of the Bison, Army made a three-pointer just as the shot clock went off and never relinquished their lead. The Bison fought back as Ayers scored on a layup to bring the game within two with 1:32 to go. Unfortunately, Army nailed another shot-clock, beating three and came up with a few steals to seal the win.

“Obviously, the loss at Army was tough. We played a solid game, but to Army’s credit they made some big shots down the stretch to win,” Fitzpatrick said. “We just got to keep improving and getting better as a team.

Brackney registered a near double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds. Kaspar finished with 13 points and five assists, while Ayers scored 10 points.

The Bison will have their first-ever Patriot League meeting against Boston University tomorrow at 2 p.m. in Sojka Pavilion. They will also face Lehigh in Bethlehem on Jan. 29 at 7 p.m.

“We can beat anyone in our league if we play well, but we can also lose to anyone in our league. We just got to keep improving and focus on our next game,” Fitzpatrick said.

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