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UC Comeback falls short as Elmira earns Empire 8 victory

By UTICA PIONEERS

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Utica College men's basketball team rallied from a 12 point second half deficit and led with just over a minute go, but visiting Elmira College used a 7-2 run in the final 1:26 to earn the 53-49 victory over the Pioneers in Empire 8 Conference action at the Clark Athletic Center Friday night.

The Pioneers have now lost four in a row and their record moved to 5-7 overall and 0-3 in conference play.  Elmira snapped a three game slide and improved its overall record to 4-6, while winning its first E8 contest of the season. The Soaring Eagles are now 1-2 in conference play.

Marty Felicia (Phoenix, NY/Phoenix) and Aaron Nevins (Buffalo, NY/Canisius) led the Pioneers with 11 points each, while Chris Jeffers (Albany, NY/Bishop Maginn) chipped in with eight points and nine rebounds.  Sophomore Robert Tutein (Nanuet, NY/Nanuet) was a perfect 3-for-3 from the floor as he registered seven points for UC.

Elmira was led by 19 points from junior forward Neil Randolph. Josh Keys chipped in with 11 points and senior guard Derrick Vogel added eight points, nine rebounds and five assists.

The Pioneers were trailing by as many as 12 points with 16 minutes to go in the second half before rattling off a tremendous 21-2 run in a span of 9:50 to earn a 44-37 lead with 6:18 left in the contest.  The stretch included a 16-0 run by the Pioneers where they held the visitors scoreless for 6:56.

Three different players scored five points for UC in the run including Nevins, Jeffers and Tutein.  Back-to-back 3-pointers by Jeffers and Tutein helped push the Pioneers to their first lead of the contest with just under seven minutes to go in the game.

However, Elmira answered with a 16-5 run in the final 6:17 of the contest to earn the four point victory.  Randolph led the late charge for the visitors as he netted ten points in the final six minutes of action.

The visiting Soaring Eagles opened the contest on an 11-2 in the first 5:48 of the game to earn an early nine point advantage.  Josh Keys led the opening charge with two 3-pointers. Elmira was 3-for-5 from downtown in the first five minutes of the game. 

Utica answered with a 15-8 run in the next 8:41 of the game and the Pioneers trailed by just two points, 119-17, with 5:31 left in the first half of play. Six different Pioneers scored in the run and UC was a perfect 3-for-3 from 3-point land in the stretch as Mark Felicia (Phoenix, NY/Phoenix), Ian Henderson (Chateaugay, NY/Chateaugay) and Chris Jeffers (Albany, NY/Bishop Maginn) each nailed a long range bucket.

Elmira closed out the first half of play on a 12-6 run to earn a 31-23 lead as the first half horn sounded.  Senior guard Josh Keys led the charge once again, totaling five points in the run.  Elmira also caused three UC turnovers in the final five minutes of the first half.

The Pioneers will return to the Clark Athletic Center tomorrow afternoon when they take on visiting Ithaca College in Empire 8 Conference action at 2 p.m.

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