The men’s basketball team faced a few setbacks in its weekend away, falling behind both Skidmore College and Union College in their second meetings this season. With these recent games, RPI falls to sixth place in the Liberty League, while Skidmore, Union, and St. Lawrence University are tied for first. The squad has three more games scheduled for Liberty League play to better its 5-6 conference record this season. Overall, the Engineers hold a 13-8 record as they enter their last string of games against Vassar, Hobart, and Hamilton Colleges.
In the opening minutes against Skidmore on February 12, junior DJ Blakemore scored a layup that sent the Engineers into an 11-4 run in which they achieved their largest lead in the game. For the remainder of the first half, both the Thoroughbreds and the Engineers battled fiercely for the lead. Within those 20 minutes, the teams saw 10 lead changes and four ties. RPI was ahead by one point at halftime, 41-40.
A three pointer from Skidmore and a layup by senior Ricky Philatre brought the game to its final tie with 16:34 left in play. But a 12-2 run by the Thoroughbreds gave them the jumpstart they needed to control the game, earning a 17 point lead with four minutes left in play. Although the Engineers were able to score almost 20 points during those remaining minutes, they were unable to overcome the Thoroughbreds, finishing behind 80-92.
Senior Tim Rupp led the Engineers with a total of 16 points and captured eight rebounds. Philatre finished with 12 points while junior Jeremy Bull added 11 points to the board.
The following day, the Engineers traveled to Union, where another close match quickly unfolded. The first half was a back-and-forth conflict with neither team gaining more than a four point advantage. Junior Mike Brion led all scorers with eight points, while Rupp added six points and five rebounds to close up the first half with a two point lead, 31-29.
The beginning of the second half saw even scores from both sides until the Dutchmen tied the game 35-35 three minutes in. For the next six minutes, the Dutchmen built up a nine point advantage, but the Engineers chipped away and brought the game to a tie once again with four minutes left. Union could not let this stand, however, and proceeded to go on a 9-2 run that allowed the team to finish the game in the lead with 64-59.
Philatre led the Engineers with 16 points, followed by Brion with 13. Philatre claimed a total of five rebounds, while Brion pulled down seven. Rupp finished the game with eight points and nine rebounds.
The Engineers will host Hobart at the East Campus Arena on Friday at 8 pm. On Saturday, the team will be participating in its last game of the season against Hamilton at the East Campus Arena with tip-off at 4 pm.