The men’s basketball team finished its season strong with two wins this past week, bringing them to fifth place in the Liberty League.
On February 16, the Engineers faced the Vassar College Brewers at an away game—their second meeting this season. The Brewers started off the contest with a three-pointer one minute into play, but junior Mike Brion answered back with his own three-pointer less than 15 seconds later, launching the Engineers into a 15-0 run. Senior Ricky Philatre put down a slam dunk six minutes in, helping to build the large lead RPI had going into the second half, 43-16.
For the remainder of the game, the Engineers continued to dominate Vassar, doubling their score to finish 86-39. Brion led all scorers with 12 points and six rebounds, while junior Travis Jones followed close behind with 11 points, going four for four on all shots, including three from behind the arc.
The Engineers were back on the court this past weekend against the Hobart College Statesmen on Friday. They got off to a rough start, falling to 0-7 within the first minute. The Engineers were able to bring the score back to almost even, but it was not until 9:40 was left in the first half when a layup by senior Tim Rupp brought the game to a tie, 24-24. A three-pointer from Brion secured the lead at 8:05, bringing the Engineers to an advantage of 40-36 at halftime.
RPI was able to hold onto its lead for the next six minutes until a three-pointer from Hobart brought the teams out of a tie and created a deficit, 46-49. The Engineers tried to catch up for the remainder of the game, but the Statesmen kept their edge, eventually outshooting the Engineers, 75-67.
Jeremy Bull scored a team-high of 13 points and added four steals for the Engineers while Brion and Philatre both scored 10 points with five and six rebounds, respectively.
Although the previous night’s loss was fresh in their minds, the Engineers entered Saturday’s game against Hamilton College with their heads held high. They had lost 43-55 earlier in the season to the Continentals, but the team was confident that it could finish its last game of the regular season and send its seniors off on a high note.
Rupp opened the game with a layup, which the Engineers compounded to an eight-point lead before the Continentals responded to take control of the game with three minutes left in the half. Three-pointers from junior Rashad Simmons and senior Eric Anderson, however, brought the score to within one at the close of the first half, 33-34.
The next 10 minutes were a back-and-forth battle between RPI and Hamilton as each team fought for the lead. There was a total of four ties and four different lead changes during this time, and neither team saw an advantage of more than three points until the Continentals took off. The Continentals built up a 10 point lead with 6:40 left, which was whittled down to nine with 3:24 left in play.
Unsure if they would be able to recover this late in the game, the Engineers continued to try their hardest to come out on top. The team was down 56-63 with 32 seconds remaining, but a three-pointer from senior Jeremy Colon brought the deficit down to four. With nine seconds left, the Engineers pulled to within two as Rupp sank a jumper while drawing a foul. His free throw was successful, as were Anderson’s two free throws a few seconds later. A foul shot from Hamilton brought the game to 64-66 in favor of the Continentals with two seconds left, but a long arching pass down the court from Brion allowed Rupp to sink a three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Engineers a 67-66 win.
Leading the way on Senior Day was Rupp, who added a game-high 25 points while going nine of 12 on shooting including three of four from three-point range. He also recorded a game-best five assists. Colon added 15 points, going three for three beyond the arc, while Anderson added 11 points and four assists. Philatre chipped in with eight points, including the game-best 10 rebounds.
With an overall record of 15-9, the Engineers scored an average of 72.5 points per game. In the Liberty League, they tied for fifth place with Clarkson with a record of 7-7. RPI finished behind St. Lawrence University, Skidmore College, Hobart, and Union College who received first, a tie for second, and fourth, respectively.