Men’s basketball falls short in Patriot League Championship against Colgate

Justin Schaumberger, Staff Writer

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The Bison men’s basketball team came up short of a third-straight bid to the NCAA Tournament, falling to Colgate 94-80 in the Patriot League championship game on March 13 in Hamilton, N.Y. After the Orange and Blue held a 5-4 lead 3:50 minutes in, the Raiders overwhelmed the Bison with a sharp shooting night, taking the lead and stemming all Bison attempts to rally.

 

The Raiders and the Bison finished as regular season Patriot League co-champions, but Colgate won the tiebreaker, seeding the Orange and Blue second in the conference tournament. The Bison surpassed Holy Cross and Lehigh in order to play in the championship game. Holy Cross proved to be a tough test once again for the Bison on March 7 at Sojka Pavilion, but the Orange and Blue came out on top with a final score of  77-65, in which 27 points were earned by Kimbal Mackenzie ’19. The Bison dispatched third-seeded Lehigh by a final score of 97-75 at Sojka Pavilion on March 10. Seniors Mackenzie and Nate Sestina ’19 were unstoppable for most of the night, combining for 48 points, 20 rebounds, and 10 assists. The Bison held a narrow 45-39 lead at halftime but were able to break the game wide open with a 52-point second half.

 

In the championship game, the Raiders shot lights-out during the first half, leaving the Bison struggling to keep up and trailing at halftime 43-30. As the second half began, Mackenzie took over, knocking down four straight threes on the way to 16 points in the first five minutes of the half. Mackenzie’s spurt cut the Colgate lead to two points, but the Orange and Blue were not able to get any closer, as the Raiders simply could not miss, shooting 70.8 percent on the night. The Orange and Blue had no answer for Colgate guard Jordan Burns, who poured in a championship record 35 points.

 

Despite playing a road game in the Patriot League Tournament for the first time in 10 years, the Bison showed no quit throughout the entire game, fighting hard until the final whistle. Sestina finished his last collegiate game with 21 points, and both he and Mackenzie were named to the All-Tournament Team.

 

Mackenzie also passed J.R Holden ’98 to become the 18th leading scorer in program history. The graduating senior class of Mackenzie, Sestina, Nate Jones, and Matt O’Reilly finished with 89 career wins, four straight Patriot League regular season titles, and two NCAA tournament appearances via two Patriot League Tournament titles. All four of them will leave big shoes to fill in the upcoming season for the Bison.

 

“We have the talent, it’s just gonna force guys to change their mentality and realize that they have to do more than before,” Jimmy Sotos ’21 said. “We’ll be fine, and I’m looking forward to making the adjustment.”

 

The Bison finished the season with a record of 21-12 and captured their eighth regular season title in the past nine years.

 

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