Men’s basketball headed to March Madness

Sojka Pavilion was packed to capacity as the Bison men’s basketball team beat Colgate 83-54 on March 7 to secure their second straight Patriot League Championship and punch their ticket to the 2018 NCAA Tournament. It is the program’s sixth Patriot League title and their eighth March Madness appearance. The 29-point margin of victory is the largest in a title game in League history.

“Playing in that type of atmosphere in a game of that importance is why we play the game. Being able to get that win for our three seniors was amazing. Now it’s time to dance and we’re looking forward to finding out who we are playing and starting to prepare,” starter Kimbal Mackenzie ’18 said.

The Orange and Blue led for the majority of the game, as the Raiders lost their lead about nine minutes into the first half and were never able to rally. The efficient Bison offense smothered any momentum Colgate tried to build, shooting 51.7 percent from the floor and 46.4 percent from beyond the arc. As a team, the Bison compiled 18 assists compared to the Raiders’ seven.

Stephen Brown ’18 led the offensive effort with 22 points. Fellow seniors Zach Thomas and Nana Foulland added five and twelve, respectively. Brown also added six assists and Thomas, Patriot League Player of the Year, secured twelve rebounds throughout the game. Nate Sestina ’19 provided a punch off the bench with 16 points and four rebounds.

It was a scrappy contest, with 29 fouls combined and one technical which led to the ejection of one Colgate player.

Late in the second half, head coach Nathan Davis subbed out each of the seniors, who left their home court for the final time to a standing ovation from the crowd. Every eligible player saw playing time in the contest. Some late game highlights included a dramatic three-point basket by Matt O’Reilly ’19 and a commanding dunk by Ben Robertson ’20.

Landing spots on the all-tournament team were the senior trio of Foulland, Thomas, and Brown. Brown additionally took home the honor of tournament MVP.

“The game was truly a blessing. I could not be any happier to have such an experience, especially in my last home game,” Brown said. “To be able to go back to the tournament was a team goal of ours from the beginning and to accomplish that is awesome. Now it’s time to make some noise in the tournament.”

The Bison defeated Loyola and Boston University to make their way into the title game. They concluded Patriot League play with a 15-1 record at home. The Orange and Blue are the first team in the league to win back-to-back titles since the 2005-06 season and have won four titles in the last eight years. The team will find out March 11 at 6 p.m who they will meet in the NCAA tournament.  

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