Men’s basketball fails to make postseason

JUNIOR REDON QELLO EYES the hoop at the East Campus Arena in RPI’s 100-78 loss to Clarkson University on Saturday. With the loss, RPI fails to advance to the Liberty League playoffs.

Coming off losses to the Rochester Institute of Technology and Hobart College, the men’s basketball team was looking to finish the season on a high note with games against Skidmore College and Clarkson University. However, both would end up as defeats as RPI finished the year 10-14 overall and 7-9 in the Liberty League.

RPI started well against Skidmore as it scored the first seven points on its way to taking a 13-3 lead with just over five minutes played. However, Skidmore quickly got back into the game when RPI began missing three-pointers. Inaccuracy from beyond the arc let the Thoroughbreds take the lead only four minutes later and they extended the lead even further when RPI’s shooting failed to improve. The Engineers would finish the half 5-20 from three-point land and trailed 54-40 as a result.

After the break, not much changed for RPI as it continued to trail for the majority of the half. The team was shooting the ball better and got to the line more often than in the first half. The Engineers’ improved overall play was the reason that they slowly cut away at the Skidmore advantage. Finally, with 8:44 left in the game, RPI tied the match up at 70. It then took the lead on a pair of free throws by senior Matt Dixon. However, an 11-2 run by Skidmore gave the visitors a seven-point advantage and the lead for good.

The Engineers remained close for the duration of the contest but were not able to complete the comeback after the run by Skidmore. In the end, RPI would lose 102-96. Junior Jamie Zajac finished with 28 points, leading all scorers, and senior Matthew Pooley added another 26 in the losing effort.

In the season finale against Clarkson, RPI finished on a disappointing note. Five minutes into the game, the Golden Knights already had 10-point lead and wanted to increase it. RPI stayed close for a short period, but once again inaccurate shooting, this time from the whole floor, became the Engineers’ downfall as they finished the first half shooting 30 percent. As RPI’s shooting worsened throughout the half, Clarkson’s lead grew and grew. Eventually, once the break was reached, RPI was dealing with a 51-31 deficit.

The second half went much better, as RPI shot 43 percent. Unfortunately, Clarkson’s lead was already too much to overcome. Clarkson’s lead never shrunk below 20 points while hitting as many as 31. In the end, RPI only lost the second half by two points as the game finished Clarkson 100, RPI 78.

RPI finishes the season 10-14 overall with a 7-9 record in the Liberty League. The team hopes to improve on that for next season while improving its strengths and remedying its weaknesses.