Hartwick Rallies For 75-69 Over Naz in Empire 8 Semifinals; Hawks Play Fisher Tomorrow for Title

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             ROCHESTER, NY – Hartwick trailed by nine points, 63-54, with five and a half minutes left, but ended the game on a 21-6 run to overtake Nazareth in the Empire 8 semifinals on Friday at St. John Fisher's Bobby Wanzer Gym. The Hawks advance to tomorrow's championship game against the host Cardinals at 4 p.m.
            Nazareth led for almost 32 minutes in the game, but Joey Lufkin's (Argyle, NY/Argyle) free throws with 1:48 remaining would put Hartwick in front for good. 'Wick would then hold Naz scoreless until the final seconds, forcing two turnovers and four missed field goal attempts. The Hawks would make 13-of-14 from the free-throw line in the last 4:53 of action.
            Lufkin and Matt Wilson (Shelton, CT/Franklin & Marshall College) tied for a game-high with 20 points apiece. Jake Sinicki (Endicott, NY/Maine Endwell) scored 14 points, added a team-high 14 rebounds, and tied for a game-high with five blocked shots.
            The Hawks would take an early 7-2 lead on the Golden Flyers before going cold. Nazareth would out-score Hartwick 16-2 over the next seven minutes to grab an 18-9 advantage. The Hawks would trail by as many as 13 points, 29-16, with 4:57 left to play in the half. An 11-2 run for the Hawks to close the period would trim the gap to four at the break, 31-27.
            Hartwick would make only 31% from the field in the opening half, including a 2-of-13 (15%) performance from three-point range.
            In the second half, Nazareth maintained a lead of six points or less for a 10-minute span in the second half. An 8-2 spurt pushed the advantage to nine points with 5:33 remaining. The Hawks called timeout and responded with a 10-2 run to quickly make it a one-point game, 65-64, with under three minutes to play. Lufkin and Trevor Norton (Mullica Hill, NJ/Ursinus College) each hit a three-pointer and made a pair of free throws in the span.
            The two teams traded baskets before Wilson picked up a steal. Lufkin was fouled on the fast break and he drained both to put the Hawks in front. Hartwick got a stop on the defensive end and the Golden Flyers turned the ball over on their next two possessions. Norton made 1-of-2 free throws for a two-point edge and Sinicki rejected Tyler Stenglein on Naz's next possession with 25 ticks to go.
            Lufkin made it a two-possession game with a pair from the line and after a missed three-pointer for Naz, Sinicki increased the margin to six, 73-67, with 10 seconds left on the clock. After Maurice Mills' put-back, Brandon LaForest (Cohoes, NY/Cohoes) put the final points up with two more free throws.
            The Flyers had no answer for Wilson down low. The senior shot 9-of-16 for the game, including a 6-for-9 showing in the second half. He also had one blocked shot to set the single-season program record. Lufkin would score 13 points in the second half and he made all six of his free throw attempts.
            Norton would end the game with 13 points. LaForest added six points, four rebounds, two assists, and two blocks.
            Hartwick would hit 90% (18-for-20) from the line on the night. Nazareth made only 56% (9-for-16). The Hawks finished 26-for-62 (42%) from the floor with the Golden Flyers making 29-of-65 (45%). Both teams were even with 39 boards apiece.
            Mills led Naz with 20 points. Stenglein added 17 and Brendan Wind scored 12. Empire 8 Player of the Year Mitch Ford was held to only 11 points.
            The Hawks advance to tomorrow's championship against Fisher, which rolled to an 85-62 win over Stevens in the day's first semifinal. The Hawks and Cardinals split their season series with each team winning at home. Fisher beat 'Wick 81-72 last Friday night.
            Hartwick is unbeaten in its previous two trips to the Empire 8 Championship game. Both, however, came at Lambros Arena. The Hawks will need to defeat a Cardinals team which has won 28 straight games at Bobby Wanzer Court.