Despite starting the season off right with a 3-1 record, the men’s basketball team experienced a tough string of losses over their past three games, bringing their overall record to 3-4 on the season and 0-2 in conference play.
The Knights lost to the SUNY Oswego Lakers on Friday Nov. 30 to the SUNY Cortland Red Dragons on Saturday Dec. 1 and the University of Rochester Yellowjackets on Tuesday Dec. 5.
The Knights’s game against the Lakers marked the opening of SUNYAC play. The Lakers scored 11 unanswered points to open the game. Geneseo remained scoreless for approximately the first five minutes of play. First-year guard Michael Gannon scored the Knights’s first point at the 4:49 mark, but the team was never able to comeback from the initial deficit.
Although they trailed for the entire game, senior guard Zack Panebianco scored seven straight points in the first half and a three-pointer in the second which helped him achieve a game-high of 31 points, coming close to his career-high of 34 points.
Junior guard Terrence Nichols also contributed offensively with 17 points—Nichols and Panebianco were the only Knights to score double digits on the night.
Even with Panebianco’s and Nichols’s help, the Knights were only able to cut the deficit to six points in the last 40 seconds of the game against Oswego and lost their first conference game with a score of 68-58.
Looking to find their first win in conference play, the Knights headed to Cortland the following night. The two teams were evenly matched for the first four minutes, but the Red Dragons opened the game up with a 19-12 lead with around 10 minutes left in the first half.
The Knights cut the lead to four in the first half with four free throws from sophomore forward Joseph Harclerode III. Cortland, however, pulled away shortly after, extending the lead to 11 going into the second half.
With the help of back-to-back three pointers from Panebianco and Harclerode, the Knights eventually gained the lead in the second half with around six minutes left. Unfortunately, the Red Dragons came back fighting with an 11-2 run, leaving Geneseo to fall to the Red Dragons 74-65.
With such a tough weekend against conference opponents for the Knights, the team looked to make a difference in the Tuesday Dec. 4 matchup against non-conference opponent the Rochester Yellowjackets.
“After coming off of a tough opening weekend on the road, our main objectives are to improve our execution on both sides of the floor as well as finishing possessions, defensively and offensively,” sophomore forward Jack Manke said. “If we achieve these little things we will be very successful in the future.”
The Knights led for a large part of the first half, leading by as many as six points with the help of a three-pointer from Panebianco around 11 minutes in. Rochester, however, took back the lead with around four minutes left, leading 36-34 going into the second half.
Unfortunately, the Knights were outmatched in the second half, with Rochester outscoring them 44- 22, losing them the game by a score of 91-67.
The Knights’s struggles over the past couple of games has seemed to come more from their lack of offensive motion rather than a problem with defensive strength.
“Overall our defense has been strong, keeping teams well under their average scoring,” first-year forward Alex Merhige said. “We have fallen short in letting up too many offensive rebounds and second chance points for the other team.”
Manke feels that the team has made steady progress despite the setbacks.
“Our team defense has been very good so far this season and I am very excited to become even better. Offensively, we have had a few players really step up in tough situations, but overall we will need to become more efficient to succeed in the future,” Manke said. “SUNYAC games are much different than out of conference play, and this past week was an eye opener to our team so we will have to make adjustments to where we fell short over this past weekend.”
Sports editor Ben Vandenberg contributed reporting to this article.