The Geneseo men's basketball team defeated SUNY Fredonia 60-49 on Tuesday Feb. 21 to advance to the semifinals of the SUNYAC tournament.
After losing to the Blue Devils twice in the regular season, the Knights entered the game as the No. 3-ranked team in the eight-team conference tournament. Fredonia was the No. 6 seed.
The familiarity the Knights had with Fredonia showed itself early in the game, as they got off to an early 9-3 lead.
"We usually spend about three quarters of our prep time on how to defend the other team," said head coach Steve Minton after the win. "With Fredonia, we spent about three-quarters of our time on how to score against them."
Geneseo's quick start forced Fredonia to take three time outs before 10 minutes had elapsed in the first half.
"They got frustrated with our ability to score easily and we had counters ready for whatever they were going to do defensively," said Minton.
The game got closer toward the end of the first half as Fredonia cut the lead to just two, in large part due to the play of their senior forward Julius Bryant who finished with 20 points. Geneseo senior forward Abe Miller came off the bench to lend the Knights an element of toughness and physicality that they had been lacking. Although he only scored four points, his defensive presence was enough to slow the game down and limit Bryant's opportunities.
Geneseo again got off to a quick start in the second half to go up 35-28, which was highlighted by a 3-pointer by sophomore forward Matt Curry. Coach Minton also said he switched up the defense once they took a more commanding lead.
"We played man and switched to a zone early in the second half. I think they were starting to figure out our man [defense]," Minton said. "With the zone, each possession they had they passed it around more and that took time off the clock for us."
Sophomore guard Thomas Decker hit a 3-pointer with about three and a half minutes left to play, followed by a Fredonia turnover, which led to a fast-break layup by sophomore guard Connor Fedge. This sequence made it a 53-42 lead for the Knights with about three minutes to play, and signaled desperation time for Fredonia.
Fredonia was forced to start fouling the Knights down the stretch, and Geneseo responded by hitting nine of their last 11 free throws. Earlier in the season, coach Minton had talked about free-throw shooting as something the team needed to improve upon, and they exemplified that improvement at the end of the game.
Next up for the Knights is No. 2 SUNY Cortland on Friday Feb. 24 at SUNY Oswego. The teams split the season series, with each team winning on the other's home court.
Cortland is 20-6 (14-4) and securing a win against Geneseo could lock up an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament. Geneseo would need to win the conference tournament in order to receive an NCAA tournament bid.