Battered and bruised, the top-seeded Geneseo men's basketball team saw its SUNYAC playoff hopes evaporate at the hands of a rambunctious Brockport team on Tuesday night, 78-64.
The Blue Knights, playing without injured junior forward Brandon Simpson, were stunned by an early onslaught of 3-pointers by the Golden Eagles from which they never recovered.
The Golden Eagles embodied their mascot from the game's beginning, flying out to a 15-5 lead by sinking five straight 3-pointers - and they didn't let up. By halftime, Brockport had made nine 3-pointers and built a 38-22 lead.
Despite this, the Blue Knights proved tenacious in the second half, playing as if their season was on the line, and rightly so. Trailing by 21 with fewer than eight minutes remaining, senior forward Scott Morton desperately dove headfirst after an errant pass, sliding violently into the end wall. The play appeared to invigorate the Blue Knights, who soon went on a 14-0 run that trimmed the lead to 10 and brought deafening cheers from the Geneseo faithful.
"I don't ever, ever count Scott Morton out of anything," said Geneseo head coach Steve Minton. "He's just been that fantastic of a player for the last four years."
The 10-point margin would be the extent of the Blue Knights' comeback, however, as Brockport used relentless full-court pressure and clutch free-throw shooting to keep Geneseo at bay in the closing minutes.
Said Morton of the team's second-half perseverance, "That's what you've got to do when your season's on the line … just play as hard as you can until you can't give any more. Unfortunately we got the losing end of it tonight."
Freshman guard Mike Hoy was a bright spot in the game, netting a career-high 25 points, 19 of which in the second half. "Hoy gave us a little bit of a look at what hopefully the future will hold for him," said Minton, "He's going to be a very good player."
The bitterness of the defeat was exacerbated by the realization that it represented the final contest for seniors Morton and Jeff Howe, who exit as all-time Geneseo greats. The pair was substituted out in the game's final minute, allowing for a standing ovation from the appreciative home crowd.
Morton and Howe end their careers as the 11th and 12th players in Geneseo basketball history to amass both 1,000 points and 500 rebounds. "They're going to be a tremendous loss for our program," said Minton.
For Morton, it was a day of ups and downs. Earlier in the day, the star forward was announced as one of ten finalists for the Jostens Trophy, the premier award in Division III basketball. According to the Jostens Web site, the trophy is awarded to the player who "exhibit[s] excellence in basketball, academics and community service."
The award, sponsored by both Jostens and the Rotary Club of Salem, Va., is given in conjunction with the Wooldridge Scholarship, which is awarded in the winner's honor to the college he attends. The winner will be presented with the trophy on March 19 in Salem, Va.