Bison men’s basketball advance to quarterfinals in Patriot League tournament

Sarah Hazard, Senior Writer

On Saturday, March 29, the Bison traveled to Boston University in hopes of closing out their regular season with a win against the Terriers. Despite their efforts, the Bison fell to the Terriers with a final score of 74-71.

The first half consisted of multiple lead changes. The Bison pulled ahead early with a free throw from John Meeks ’21, two three-pointers from Walter Ellis ’22 and Xander Rice ’23 and a tip-in from Kahiel Spear ’22. This gave them a 9-0 run and with continued offensive success, the Bison grew their lead to 11 points.

The Terriers responded with a 16-4 run, bringing a 25-24 lead with 3:55 left to play in the first half. The Bison were able to quickly take back the lead, going into the half ahead by five. The Bison would come back out in the second half to a score of 30-25.

The Bison continued to press at the start of the second half and would extend their lead to double digits later in the half. After being down by as much as 16 points, the Terriers found their way back into the game. As the final minutes played out, the Bison were still ahead 71-69, but after a Bison turnover, the Terriers were able to tie the game at 71. With 27 seconds left, the Terriers hit a two-pointer that sealed the game.

Stat leaders on the day were Jimmy Sotos ’21 with 19 points, Andrew Funk ’22 with 15, Ellis with 11 and Paul Newman ’21 with six. Avi Toomer ’20 led the team in rebounds with six, followed by Funk with five, Meeks and Spear with four. The Bison shot a .448 shooting average, while the Terriers shot .537.

The Bison were able to clinch a spot in the Patriot League Tournament with their win against Colgate. They finished the regular season with a Patriot League record of 8-10, and played Holy Cross in the first round of the tournament on Tuesday. “The most exciting thing about the Patriot League tournament is that it’s win or go home and the league is so wide open that any team can be beat,” Newman said. “If you’re not ready to play, then your season can be over. The tournament atmosphere is something I’m looking forward to.”

In the first round of the Patriot League Tournament, the seventh-seeded Bison took on 10th seeded Holy Cross at Sojka Pavilion. As the college basketball great and former Bison head coach Jim Valvano once said, “Survive and advance,” and that was exactly what the Orange and Blue did as they emerged victorious 65-62, earning themselves a spot in the quarterfinals.

While the Bison led for nearly the entire contest, the Crusaders did not go down quietly. Despite holding a double-digit lead in the second half, the Orange and Blue found themselves in a situation that they had been in several times this season, a close game. With only 1:43 remaining in the second half, the Bison held a slim 62-59 advantage. After several defensive stops both ways and a Crusader free throw, the Bison had the ball with 52 seconds left and called a time out. On the ensuing play, Sotos was able to drive down the middle and kick the ball to an open Toomer in the corner who knocked down a three to put the Bison up three with only 29 seconds left. The Crusaders were able to get a layup to cut the lead to three with four seconds left, but the Orange and Blue were able to hold on.

Funk was huge for the Bison scoring a team-high 17 points and hitting several timely shots to stop Holy Cross runs. Sotos and Toomer were also double-digit scorers for the Bison scoring 14 and 10 points respectfully. A big key in the Bison’s victory was their outstanding play from their bench. Spear, Rice and Ellis provided key minutes for the Orange and Blue to give other players blows and outscored the Crusaders bench 17-2.

With the victory, the Bison will most likely have to play the remainder of their games on the road. They will look to move on to the semi-finals as they take on the number two seeded American team on March 5 at 7 p.m. The two teams split the regular-season meetings with the Bison winning by four at Sojka and the Crusaders winning on a buzzer-beater in D.C.

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