Score: Elmira College 83, The Sage Colleges 79
Records: Elmira (3-8, 1-1 E8), Sage (5-7, 1-2 E8)
Location: Kahl Gym -- Albany, N.Y.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- Less than 24 hours after a tough loss in the 2018-19 Empire 8 Conference opener, the Elmira College men's basketball team notched its first conference victory of the season by topping The Sage Colleges, 83-79, inside Sage's Kahl Gym on Saturday evening.
The Soaring Eagles outshot the Gators on their home court, as EC logged a 48.4 field-goal percentage (31-of-64), as compared to a rate of 37.8 percent (31-of-82) by Sage. Elmira's shooting percentage marked the team's highest since surpassing 50.0 percent in each of the first two games of the year, and the Soaring Eagles needed the efficiency to overcome a season-worst 23 turnovers.
Justin Porrett '19 was the game's top scorer with a second consecutive 20-point performance. The senior from Dumont, New Jersey, also dished out seven assists to become the first Soaring Eagle in program history to surpass 500 career helpers. Classmate Henry Cuffee '19 and sophomore Shawn Backus '21 added 16 and 15 points, respectively, and both forwards made six field goals and collected six rebounds.
Elmira led by as many as 11 points in the first half and brought a 44-39 advantage into the locker room at halftime. After trading narrow leads for the first 10 minutes of action, Backus turned an 18-17 Sage lead into a five-point cushion for the Soaring Eagles by netting six unanswered points. EC held that lead for the remainder of the half. Cuffee went on a run of his own with eight straight points in less than a minute, including a pair of clutch 3-pointers. Cuffee's second trey forced Sage to call a timeout with 3:08 remaining before the break after falling behind 41-30.
EC's lead lasted until the 13:09 mark of the second half, when a 7-0 Sage run that Frane Larose capped off with a 3-point field goal put his team up by one, 55-54. The score was leveled on several occasions down the stretch, as the Soaring Eagles and Gators continued to answer each other's shots in the tightly-contested affair.
Sage broke a 73-all tie with a layup, but Porrett converted a go-ahead and-one 25 seconds later to claw ahead 76-75. With four-and-a-half minutes to go, Jesse Adelson '20 sunk a trey to widen the gap to four points, 79-75, but turnovers by Elmira on four straight possessions allowed the Gators to even the game again at 79-79.
With under a minute left in regulation, Backus knocked down a long two-pointer that gave Elmira the lead for good, 81-79. Cuffee then made it a two-possession game with a pair of free throws with 4.4 seconds left to secure the victory.
In Their Own Words...
Head Coach Randie Torgalski on Elmira picking up its first Empire 8 win of the season...
"It feels great. The boys did an excellent job of regrouping from last night. Our focus was on today and what was going on today. Getting a road split on the opening weekend of E8 play is something we will definitely take."
Coach Torgalski on Justin Porrett's second 20-point game in a row over the weekend...
"'JP' is taking what teams are giving him. He gets in the paint and teams worry about his passing. It allows him to get to the rim and he had some great finishes."
Coach Torgalski when asked about Elmira's next opponent, Ivy League affiliate Columbia University on January 12...
"As an exhibition game for us and with it being our bye weekend in the E8, it gives us someone other than ourselves to play against. That's huge. Playing a Division I opponent is an awesome challenge and an awesome experience for our team and our program. We're thankful to Columbia for bringing us down to play next week."
News and Notes
- Elmira improved to 3-11 overall and leveled its E8 record at 1-1.
- The Soaring Eagles earned their first-ever win over Sage in their second season as conference opponents.
- EC hauled in a season-high 46 rebounds and blocked a season-best eight shots.
- The Soaring Eagle offense produced a 48.4 field-goal percentage, its best since shooting 50.7 percent in the first two games of the year.
- Porrett netted double-digit points for the ninth time this season and has scored 20 points in back-to-back games.
- With seven more assists on Saturday, Porrett – who broke EC's all-time record on Friday night at Stevens – became the first Soaring Eagle to surpass 500 career helpers. Porrett finished the weekend with 501 career assists.
- Backus has reached double figures in 10 of Elmira's 11 games this year.
- Cuffee's 16 points mark his second-highest single-game total as a senior.
- Freshman guard Bryan Powell '22 made his collegiate debut and scored his first career points with a 3-pointer in the opening half vs. Sage.
For the second year in a row, the EC men will challenge a Division I opponent. On Saturday, January 12, the Soaring Eagles will travel to New York, New York, to face Columbia University at 2:00 p.m. in an exhibition game.