Men’s basketball drops first two home games of season

Justin Schaumberger, Staff Writer

The Bison men’s basketball team was unable to complete a huge second-half comeback in a narrow 60-58 loss to Fairfield on Nov. 10 at Sojka Pavilion in their home opener. The Bison erased a 10-point Fairfield halftime lead to tie the game at 58 when guard Kimbal Mackenzie ’19 converted a driving layup with nine seconds left. Unfortunately for the Bison, their comeback came up short after Fairfield scored a spinning layup with three seconds left and a running three-point attempt by Jimmy Sotos ’21 rimmed out as time expired.

Mackenzie led the way for the Bison with 15 points, along with five assists and six rebounds. Center Paul Newman ’21 played well in his first career start (in place of the injured Nate Sestina ’19) by contributing 12 points, seven rebounds, and four blocked shots. Guard Avi Toomer ’20 also finished in double-digit scoring with 10 points and eight rebounds.

The Bison started the game out slow, trailing by as many as 15 points in the first half. They shot only 32 percent from the field in the first half, while Fairfield shot a blistering 61 percent. In the first half, the team had an eight-minute scoreless drought where Fairfield was able to extend their lead from 5-4 to 17-4. Despite this, the Bison locked up defensively in the second half and limited the Stags to 23 percent from the field in the half. Guard Ben Robertson ’20 provided a huge spark off the bench for the Bison with eight points and seven rebounds, including a massive alley-oop dunk off a Mackenzie feed to cut the Stags’ lead to three.

The Bison had numerous positives to take away from the game, despite the frustrating loss. Fourteen of their 20 field goals came off assists and the Bison dominated both backboards, out-rebounding Fairfield 41 to 27. This included 17 offensive rebounds, which led to eight second-chance points. The Bison also protected the rim with nine blocked shots and drew numerous charges on Fairfield players.

“Credit that to our bigs Paul Newman and Bruce Moore [’20],” Sotos said. “They work really hard on defense to contest and challenge every shot near the rim. We’re going to have to carry over the defense we played in the second half into Tuesday’s game and execute better offensively.”

Unfortunately, the Bison defense did not have many answers for the opposing team’s offense in their next home game. On Nov. 13, the Bison were unable to recover from another large first half deficit in a home loss to Canisius, 82-73. The Bison trailed by as much as 20 points early in the second half after Canisius shot the ball exceptionally well in the first half. The Orange and Blue were unable to ever take the lead, despite cutting the margin to six points with seven minutes remaining.

The Bison were led by Sotos, who scored a career-high 23 points while shooting an efficient 9-for-12 from the field. Mackenzie chipped in 16 points, including four three-pointers. Newman had another standout game, contributing 13 points, seven rebounds, and four blocks.

The Bison were again plagued by a slow start, falling behind early and trying to dig themselves out of a major deficit for the third straight game. While the Bison shot much better from the field than they did against Fairfield, they struggled again from the free throw line, only making 11 of 20 free throws. Additionally, they gave Canisius extra possessions by turning over the ball 15 times.

Head coach Nathan Davis and the team will look to regroup over the next 12 days before traveling to American East power Vermont on Nov. 25.

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