Men’s basketball defeats Cortland, continues to advance in SUNYAC rank

Sophomore guard Tommy Eastman looks for a pass to teammate senior guard Kevin Crockett during their game against SUNY Oswego on Friday Jan. 26, which resulted in a 72-70 loss. The men redeemed themselves after this loss as they beat SUNY Cortland 77-73 on Saturday Jan. 27 and Buffalo State College 82-74 on Tuesday Jan. 30. (Jonathan Pastore/staff photographer)

The Geneseo men’s basketball team has proven that they can compete with anyone after their back-to-back home games on Friday Jan. 26 and Saturday Jan. 27. The team played SUNY Oswego and SUNY Cortland, respectively, and were able to come away with a loss and a win.

The team’s matchup with Oswego on Friday Jan. 26 would result in a heartbreaking 72-70 loss. The game ended with Oswego scoring a buzzer beater basket as time expired in the fourth quarter. Despite late heroics from Oswego to win the game, the Knights felt they would not have been in the position to lose at the last second if they had executed more in other areas during the match. 

“The bottom line is that there were opportunities in the first 39 minutes,” head coach Steve Minton said. 

The Knights turned the ball over 14 times and failed to get to loose balls when opportunities arose. Oswego’s game-winning shot was the result of a failure by Geneseo to jump on a loose ball after a broken-up play. 

“There are a lot of things that led up to that last second play,” senior guard Charlie Zaepfel said. “Some stupid turnovers came back to bite us in the end.”

It was a tough loss to swallow, but the Knights did not have time to dwell on it as they faced the top team in the SUNYAC, Cortland, the following night.

In what might be their most impressive win of the season, Geneseo defeated Cortland by a score of 77-53. Cortland entered the game with an impressive 15-3 record, but the Knights were up to the test.

The Knights put forth an outstanding defensive effort and were able to hold Cortland to just 53 points on 33 percent shooting. The team had a great defensive plan heading into the game and were able to execute it well. 

“Early on we played multiple defenses,” Minton said, which helped the men come out on top. The team switched between various zone schemes, as well as man-to-man, in order to confuse Cortland. This strategy was successful and the team stifled one of the best offenses in the SUNYAC Conference.

The Knights game planning put them in a position to win. 

“We knew their plays, knew what they were trying to do,” sophomore guard Tommy Eastman said. 

Preparation was a big part of the team’s ability to rebound from a tough loss the night before. It is this type of resiliency that should help the team move forward as games get more and more important.

Geneseo currently sits at No. 4 in the SUNYAC standings with a record of 11-9 and Cortland sits at No. 2 after their loss to the Knights with a record of 15-4. The Knights should feel confident after beating a team that has been at the top of the conference all season long. The team is currently in position to advance into SUNYAC Tournament play, and if they continue to execute games like they did against Cortland, they should be able to beat any team. 

“In this conference, anybody can step up and beat anybody,” Minton said.

Moving forward, consistency is key. If the Knights fail to hold onto the ball like they did against Oswego, they may struggle to advance as the season rolls on. If the team shows up and executes like they did against Cortland, then the sky is the limit for this group.