Men’s basketball bounces into action with season-opening victory

Becky Chambers, Staff Writer

The men’s basketball team opened its season with a 76-64 win at home against Manhattan on Nov. 11 followed by a loss on the road against Wake Forest on Nov. 13.

The game against Manhattan was well-matched, but the Bison ultimately proved themselves, winning 76-64. The two teams were neck and neck at first, but roughly a quarter through the game, the Orange and the Blue began building a lead over Manhattan. By halftime, the Bison were up 35-31. Bruce Moore ’20 and Nana Foulland ’18 combined for a nice play in the eighth minute to jump-start the Bison offense. Manhattan came close to catching up at one point, but Nate Sestina ’19 scored six shots in a row, allowing the Bison to keep their lead.

Stephen Brown ’18 then took control of the court and scored seven points within the last three minutes of the game. Foulland topped it off with a huge dunk that brought the score to 74-61 with less than one minute to go. Zach Thomas ’18 finished off the night with two free throws to bring the score to 76-64. Thomas tallied 25 points, eight rebounds, and five assists during the game.

“Playing against a team like Manhattan to start the season was a good test for us because they have been extremely successful in their conference and have been to the NCAA tournament recently. Playing tournament caliber teams to start the year is very beneficial to us because it allows us to see how much we have improved since the start of the preseason in August,” Sestina said.

The Bison hit the road two days later to face Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, N.C. It was an intense, high scoring game, but the Demon Deacons were victorious with a 94-74 win. The Bison played hard throughout the game, but Wake Forest had an advantage in size and it showed in the outcome. It was a very physical game with 15 fouls from the Bison in the first half. Thomas, Sestina, Foulland, and Kimbal Mackenzie ’19 scored double digits. Brown tallied the most assists with five.

D.J. MacLeay ’17 reflected on the game, acknowledging the Orange and Blue’s impressive efforts in their opening weekend.

“I think our season has gotten off to a positive start. We have shown a lot of improvement on the defense side of the ball and we appear to be much closer as a group than we have been in the past. The Wake game was tough, but all in all they just hit a lot of tough shots and never really gave us a chance to make a run in the second half. I am very excited about the rest of the year, we think it can be a special one,” MacLeay said.

“Wake Forest had incredible size. With a starting lineup of an average height of 6’8”. It was pretty interesting to see how we lined up. We have a very talented team and we have potential to be extremely successful,” Sestina said.

Despite the challenges that the team faced in its match against Wake Forest, Sestina remains hopeful for the rest of the season.

“Playing a team like Wake Forest was also a good test that allowed us to see where we stand. As a team, we need to use our speed and athleticism a little bit more, but we have a great team and great players who all bring something different to the table and we should take advantage of that,” Sestina said.

The Bison will be back with a string of games in the next week as they take on Butler Nov. 19, Vanderbilt Nov. 21, and Norfolk State Nov. 24 in the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational.

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