UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Yes, you can call it a streak. The SUNYIT Men’s Basketball Team (3-14, 2-5 NEAC) could finally use that most wonderful s-word Saturday afternoon, defeating Keuka (4-12, 4-5 NEAC) 73-71 at home for the Wildcats’ second-straight win. SUNYIT led by as many as eight late in the second half, and weathered a tough comeback effort by the visiting Storm to hang on for the two-point win.
“Our team has shown a lot of character these last two games,” said Wildcat coach Kevin Grimmer. “It would’ve been easy for our guys to give up on the season after the way we started, but they’ve stuck together and now they have a chance to climb back into contention in conference play.”
The game came down to the second half despite the first half ending with a bang: Sejad Gromilic (Bosnia / Utica-Proctor) hit a three-pointer from the top of the key with the shot clock winding down, only to see Keuka guard Brian Cunliffe bank in a 35-footer to end the half and give the Storm a 35-34 lead.
Gromilic would get his revenge in the second half, scoring 14 of his game high 26 points on 5 of 8 shooting. For the game the point guard from Bosnia was 10 of 18, knocking down 3 of 7 three-pointers and leading the team with 5 assists and 4 steals.
The play of the game, however, would belong to Wildcat freshman T’Andre Richardson (Utica, N.Y. / Utica-Proctor). With just 15 seconds remaining in the game and the Wildcats clinging to a two-point lead, Cunliffe beat Gromilic off the dribble and appeared to have a wide open lane to the hoop. The apparent, however, was dashed as a flying Richardson materialized from nowhere to block the ball out of bounds. The Wildcats would stop Keuka on the ensuing in-bound to take their second league victory in as many games.
Richardson finished the game with 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Derek Rowe (Mexico, N.Y. / Mexico Academy) led all players with 11 rebounds, and Tanner Metzko (Bloomville, N.Y. / South Kortright) continued to give the Wildcats a lift off the bench, scoring 7 points on 3 of 3 shooting, including an acrobatic three-point play in the first half.
For Keuka, Coty Paige led the way with 18 points. He was followed closely by Cunliffe with 16, and Teddy Tuggles pitched in with 12. Despite respectable shooting (44% from the field, and an impressive 10 of 21 from three-point range), Keuka was plagued by turnovers, coughing it up 21 times to SUNYIT’s 12. Many of the Keuka turnovers came against an effective SUNYIT full-court press.
Seven of the eight Wildcats to see the court recorded at least one steal.
SUNYIT will try to finish off the second leg of their weekend doubleheader tomorrow at home again versus Wells. Game time is set for 1:00 pm.