Hot Start Sends Ithaca Past Vassar, 87-68

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ITHACA, N.Y. – The Ithaca College men's basketball team jumped out to an 11-0 lead over the opening 2:10 of its Liberty League matchup with Vassar College on Friday evening inside Ben Light Gymnasium and never looked back, as the Bombers cruised to an 87-68 victory. Ithaca is now 1-0 in the Liberty League and 2-2 overall, while Vassar drops to 2-3 overall and 0-1 in conference play.

The Bombers won the opening tip and immediately took a 3-0 lead as junior Sebastian Alderete connected from distance on the game's initial shot. Within the next minute, the Bombers were up 8-0 after a jumper from senior Peter Ezema and a 3-pointer from classmate Matt Flood. After the fourth consecutive turnover by Vassar, junior Riley Thompson drilled a three to push IC's lead to double digits just 2:10 into the contest, and the Bombers would never look back in the wire-to-wire victory.

Vassar got on the board with 17:23 left in the first half, but Ithaca answered with another make by Flood from beyond the arc to push the IC advantage to 14-2. The Brewers would score the next six points to pull to within 14-8, but the torrid shooting display continued for IC, as the Bombers responded with a 15-1 run over the next three minutes to establish a 20-point cushion (29-9) with 10:53 to go.

During that stretch, the Bombers hit three 3-pointers from Alderete, Flood and Thompson.

The Brewers could only pull back to within a 16-point spread for the remainder of the half, while Ithaca led by as many as 27 points (46-19 – 2:25) over before intermission. By the end of the opening 20 minutes, Ithaca owned a 46-24 lead.

Ithaca played a nearly perfect first half of basketball in the conference tilt as the Bombers scored 17 points off 11 Vassar turnovers, did not commit one on the offensive end, and made eight 3-pointers. Alderete (10), Flood (11) and Thompson (10) all reached double figures before the break.

Thompson went off in the second half as he scored 17 points to total 27 on the night. He shot 8-for-15 overall, 5-for-7 from distance and a perfect 6-for-6 at the free throw line.

Flood went 4-for-5, including three triples in the first half, and finished the game with 15 points. Alderete added three points in the second half to notch 13 points overall.

Senior Peter Ezema became the fourth Bomber to eclipse double-digits in the contest as he finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and three steals. Sophomore Bryan Karl added nine points (all on 3-pointers), five boards and a pair of blocks.

Over the final 20 minutes, the smallest Ithaca's lead dwindled to was 17 points (61-44 and 70-53) and the Bombers led by as many as 26 (87-61) with 3:51 to go.

All 14 players who dressed for the game on Friday saw at least three minutes of action. Freshman Skylar Sinon chipped in six points, three steals and three rebounds, while sophomore Cooper Macklin added five points and two boards. Senior Jake Mitchell also found the scoring column with two points, to go along with four assists, three boards and two steals.

The Bombers recorded 14 steals on the night, which led to 26 points. IC also scored 19 points on fast break chances and received 20 points from its bench.

Defensively, the Bombers shut down Vassar from 3-point range, as the Brewers only made 3-of-24 attempts (12.5%).

Ithaca finished the contest shooting 31-for-70 overall (44.3%) and 16-for-37 (43.2%) from 3-point range. The 16 triples are the most for a Bomber team since Feb. 16, 2017 when the Bombers connected on 17 attempts against Houghton.

The Bombers also assisted on 16 makes as nine players contributed to that total.

Ithaca is back in action tomorrow afternoon for a 4 p.m. tip against Bard College in another Liberty League showdown.