RPI men’s and women’s basketball played to jam-packed schedule weeks before most students returned to campus. The men’s team played to a 3-6 record since the start of the new year, while the women’s squad posted a 4-5 mark since late December.
The women’s basketball team finished December with a win over Salem State College in the Salem State Holiday Tournament, but then lost in the finals to Williams College. RPI jumped out to a nine-point halftime lead and only increased it in the second half as it won 79-67. However, the final did not go as smoothly. After the Engineers built a 10-point lead, Williams came storming back and was only down two points at the half. Midway through the second period, Williams hit a three to tie the game up and did not look back. The Engineers would fall 62-47.
In its first Liberty League game of the season, RPI would lose to the Rochester Institute of Technology, 71-66. The Engineers started well and even had a five-point lead at halftime. However, they then missed all 10 of the three-point attempts they shot during the second half, shooting 26 percent from the floor. On the other hand, RIT shot the ball well and finished the game up by five.
The next matchup against St. Lawrence University did not go any better for the Engineers. They trailed for virtually the entire game while St. Lawrence shot 48 percent from the floor. RPI could only hope to dent the lead during the second half as it finished 76-58, back-to-back losses for the Engineers.
The Engineers then got on a roll winning three in a row. The first was against Union College in a very low scoring affair. The teams combined for 40 turnovers, but RPI shot the ball very well in the second half, going 10-23 as it held onto its halftime lead. Rensselaer earned the victory with a 49-39 score.
The team’s second win came against Skidmore College. A solid performance in the first half saw the Engineers down 30-27, but this was quickly erased by another excellent second period performance. Despite shooting 25 percent from beyond the arc, RPI shot over 40 percent from the whole floor. Rensselaer got the lead for good with two minutes left and extended it to a 62-52 margin of victory.
The third victim was Bard College as the Engineers scored 41 points in each half. Sophomore Kyleigh Oliveira led all scorers with 18 points and RPI shot 36 of 79 from the floor. The blowout finished with RPI on top, 82-33.
Unfortunately for the Engineers, they had to play St. Lawrence again. In a mirror image of the previous contest, RPI trailed for the entire game and, like in its loss to RIT, it struggled from behind the three-point line as the team missed all 14 of its attempts. St. Lawrence shot 27 for 65 on its way to a 72-56 win.
An exciting comeback against Clarkson University fell short as the Engineers were not able to overcome the 11-point halftime deficit that Clarkson had built. However, RPI stormed back into the game, taking the lead at several points. With 24 seconds remaining, senior Hillary McKinley made a layup to give RPI the one point lead. Unfortunately, a Clarkson layup with one second remaining left the Engineers with a 57-56 loss.
The Engineers, now 9-7 overall and 3-4 in the Liberty League will host William Smith College on Friday at 6 pm before traveling to Union College on Saturday for a 2 pm match.
With the start of January came the end of the Engineers’ non-conference schedule. In a loss to the Stevens Institute of Technology, RPI junior Daniel Martin scored 13 points in a losing effort. The Ducks set a single-game scoring record as they beat the Engineers 127-83. The next game went slightly better as senior captain Matthew Pooley scored 21 points, but RPI ultimately fell to Middlebury College in a 123-111 match.
The first Liberty League matchup of the season was against rival RIT. Pooley again led the Engineers with 19 points. The team was fantastic from beyond the arc, going 14 for 39 on three-point attempts. RPI went on to score over 100 points in consecutive games, winning 104-93.
The victory was followed by losses to St. Lawrence University and then to Union College. St. Lawrence was able to control RPI’s offense and held it to only 24 points in the first half. The Engineers battled back in the second half, shooting 17 for 33, but St. Lawrence matched them the whole way and the game finished in a 76-69 loss for RPI.
The loss to Union started slowly again for the Engineers as they struggled to shoot from all over the floor. They were able to stay close thanks to their three-point shooting, but Union would hold on to win 89-77. Pooley led RPI in scoring in both contests.
Back-to-back losses were followed by back-to-back victories for the Engineers. Against Skidmore College, the Engineers began with the hot hands shooting over 50 percent in the first half, including 8-12 from three-point range. That performance allowed the team to build up a 13 point lead. This started to slip away in the second half as RPI began to struggle to find the basket while Skidmore heated up and eventually took the lead with less than three minutes to play. However, Pooley made a lay-up with a minute and a half remaining, giving RPI the lead for good with two of his 20 points.
The next victory saw RPI scoring 100 points again in its defeat of Bard College. The Engineers shot 17-44 from beyond the arc and were consistent from the floor the whole game. Junior Chris Almodovar finished as RPI’s leading scorer with 13 points as it went on to win 103-69.
Unfortunately, these victories were followed by two more defeats, the first to St. Lawrence. Once again RPI struggled to find its shooting touch in the first half as it fell to a 15-point halftime deficit. The Engineers could not overcome this and fell 100-82. The second loss was to Clarkson. RPI never saw itself in the lead for the entire game with Clarkson dominating towards a 106-94 victory.
RPI is now 6-9 on the season, and is 3-4 in Liberty League play. The Engineers take on Hobart College on Friday at 8 pm at the East Campus Arena, and follow with a trip to play Union on Saturday at 4 pm.