Hartwick Gets by Houghton, 56-53

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HOUGHTON, NY – The Hartwick men's basketball team managed to stay in front late in the second half of what was a balanced scoring attack against host Houghton to eke out a 56-53 victory at The Nielson Center Friday night. With their second win in three games, the Hawks also complete a season sweep of the Highlanders to advance to 13-7 overall and 6-5 inside the Empire 8. Houghton is now 7-12 and 2-8 in league action.

No team led by more than six in the onset of the game before the Highlanders took a four-point cushion with them to the locker-room, 30-26.

Both teams shot in the neighborhood of 30 percent for the game. Hartwick profited 22 points, six coming in the open court, off of Houghton's 20 miscues. The Highlanders did notch 15 points off of second chance opportunities.

The largest lead of the night came on home team's side with 16:12 pictured on the game clock as Phil Pellegrino finished down low on a read from Johnathan Stowe for the 10-point advantage, 36-26.

Still, in striking distance, Brandon LaForest (Cohoes, NY/Cohoes HS) sank the long-ball opportunity, provided by Joey Lufkin (Argyle, NY/Argyle Central), to cap a 13-3 surge for the Hawks to knot the score, 39-up, with 12:04 behind the final horn.

Jordan Scott could not complete his layup opportunity and Marc du Moulin (Altamont, NY/Guilderland) was there to clean the board. Lufkin gained hold of the ball and hit an open Justin Pratt (North Kingstown, RI/North Kingstown HS) who tossed in the go-ahead three-pointer for Hartwick's first lead since the 10:26 mark of the first (14-13).

In close grips, Houghton managed to contain their deficit to six or less and on a Pellegrino bucket, the team deadlocked the score, 50-50, with 3:22 left.

Lufkin turned the ball over on the next play but the Highlanders were unable to capitalize on it as Jake Sinicki (Endicott, NY/Maine-Endwell HS) blocked a shot from Stowe. Sinicki would get to the line and complete the trip before the Hawks called for time, up 52-50.

Out of the break, LaForest earned a steal and was sent to the line where he too connected on both tries with 2:12 to go for a four-point edge.

With 1:45 left, Pellegrino absorbed the contact and found his way to the cup for an old-fashioned three, 54-53.

The Hawks converted two of four free throws in two trips to the line but empty possessions haunted the Highlanders as the Hawks eventually escaped the night by a three-point window.

Four Hartwick players reached double figures in scoring led by Lufkin's 16 points, three assists, one steal and a 50 percent shooting clip from distance (3-of-6).

Both LaForest and Sinicki corralled season-bests in steals with LaForest coming up with five thefts and Sinicki with four. LaForest added 15 points supported by two blocks, as well as seven boards. Sinicki netted 10 points, six of which were earned at the charity stripe, and four rebounds.

Corey Baker (Granby, MA/Granby HS) rewrote his season-high with 10 points on the night while du Moulin pulled down six boards.

Stowe was credited with a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds while Dylan Lambert nearly did the same with 16 points and nine boards. Scott's 11 points were helped by three long-ball makes.

The Hawks complete a back-to-back tomorrow when they visit Alfred for a 4 p.m. jump.