Men’s Basketball Prevails in Overtime Battle with Fairfield

Ajan Caneda, Copy Editor

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A 25-point outburst in overtime guided the men’s basketball team to a 72-66 road victory over Fairfield on Dec. 1. The Bison weren’t as fortunate against Penn State on Nov. 28, suffering an 88-80 defeat to the Nittany Lions on throwback night in front of the fifth-largest crowd in Sojka Pavilion history.

“Our team is hungry for success, which allows us to grow both individually as players and also as a team. As far as chemistry, we are all pretty selfless,” John Azzinaro ’17 said. “I feel as if we are learning to be more cohesive as a team. It’s a long season and we have not reached the final product that we hope to be, although we are making steps in the right direction.”

In the Orange and Blue’s first overtime game since Feb. 2011, Steven Kaspar ’15 posted eight points in the extra period that led to a program record in overtime scoring.

Chris Hass ’16 added a team-high 18 points, all coming after the first half. The frontcourt tandem of Dom Hoffman ’16 and Nana Foulland ’18 rounded out the double-digit scorers with 14 and 12 points, respectively.

The Bison trailed 24-18 after the first half, shooting only 22.2 percent (8-36) from the field during that stretch. In the second half, a Fairfield three-point play put the Stags up 12 with 11:24 left, but baskets by Azzinaro and Hoffman brought the Bison within six.

The final minutes of the game were filled with back-and-forth action, as Hass knocked down three straight jumpers to stifle the Stags’ momentum. Hass also had an opportunity to take the lead in the final minute, but the ball was redirected by Fairfield and ended up out-of-bounds. Fairfield launched a potential game-winning fadeaway shot that missed its mark and sent the game to overtime.

The Bison were nearly perfect offensively in overtime, as they shot 5-6 from the field, 2-2 on three-pointers, and 13-14 from the free throw line. Kaspar nailed a three-point basket to start overtime and put the team up for good. After the trey, Foulland finished a three-point play off an offensive rebound on route to the win.

“The biggest strengths of this team are that we have a lot of weapons, meaning everyone has something they do really well to bring to the team,” Stephen Brown ’18 said. “We have great upper-class leadership and a lot of skilled players.”

Playing their second Big Ten team of the year, the Bison showcased a valiant effort against Penn State, but the Nittany Lions had a little more left in the tank at the end. It was also the teams’ first meeting in Lewisburg since 1976. Azzinaro nailed four three-pointers which led to a career-high 18 points. Hass and Foulland added 14 each, while J.C. Show ’18 scored 10 points.

At the 6:19 mark of the second half, Cory Starkey ’15 was successful on two free throws to even the score at 66. Unfortunately, Penn State went on a 10-1 run and hit timely free throws to defeat the Orange and Blue.

“We are very capable of beating the top teams in the NCAA but just need that extra play whether it be a rebound, one less turnover, or one defensive stop to win,” Brown said. “Even though it is a tough stretch, we have grown together as a team and everyone has stepped up and bought into the process of the season.”

The Bison (3-5) travel to Columbia on Dec. 6 before returning home for a game against Albany on Dec. 8 at 7 p.m.

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