HOBOKEN, NJ – The Alfred University men's basketball team picked up a huge win on Saturday in a thrilling overtime victory at Stevens Institute of Technology. The Saxons (11-4, 4-2 Empire 8) held off the Ducks for the 78-75 win.
It was a close first half all the way through with neither team going ahead by more than six points. A three from Steven's Michael Zignorski sent the Ducks into halftime leading Alfred 37-34.
The early minutes of the second half moved the advantage to Stevens as the Ducks went up by as many as 11, making it 46-35 with 14:21 remaining in regulation.
The Saxons began to slowly creep their way back into the game once the clock hit under 12 minutes. A few layups along with one of Dom LeMorta's (Scotia, NY/Scotia-Glenville)five three point field goals on the day, made it 54-51 with 7:40 to play.
After another LeMorta three, the senior guard made a play on the defensive end with a block, then was fouled a possession later, which sent him to the free throw line with an opportunity to tie or give the Saxons the lead. LeMorta hit both foul shots and put the Saxons up 56-55 with 5:28 remaining.
With the game tied at 65 with 14 seconds to play, Stevens had the opportunity for the last shot. The Ducks came out of a timeout and tossed up a jumper that was no good. LeMorta grabbed the board and quickly called timeout with two seconds on the clock.
Out of the timeout, a homerun toss from Sage Brown (Cortland, NY/Cortland) the length of three quarters of the court and a handoff to LeMorta was executed to perfection for an open shot but the three point attempt from the wing went just off of the rim and as a result sent the game into overtime.
Stevens jumped out to the first lead in overtime, converting a couple of free throws, but a three-point play off of a layup and foul from Brown helped AU regain the lead 70-69.
The Ducks returned fire with a three but a tough turn around jumper from Sam Dagon (Hornell, NY/Hornell) made it 72 all.
Stevens was fouled on the next possession and made one of two free throws to go up by one. On the other end, Scotty Stopera (Scotia, NY/Scotia-Glenville) found himself with an open three-point attempt that went off the rim but Brown quickly swooped in for a tip-in layup to put Alfred up 74-73.
A missed layup from Stevens on the next possession forced them to begin fouling the Saxons with 21 second left in the overtime period. LeMorta was first to the line and was able to knock down both free throws to extend the AU lead to three.
Following the second made free throw, the Ducks rushed down to the opposite end and converted a layup, making it 76-75 with 15 seconds on the clock. The Saxons then inbounded the ball and found Jeremiah Zitz (Irondequoit, NY/Irondequoit) who was immediately fouled by the Ducks. Zitz stepped up to the line with ice in his veins and nailed both free throws to regain the three-point lead.
Stevens had one last opportunity with nine seconds remaining after a timeout. The Ducks found a decent look for a three-point attempt but the shot went off of the iron as time expired and secured the Saxon victory.
"We did a much better job defensively today. We need to keep defending as a team," Head Coach Russell Phillips said. "We also had great contributions from our bench in the second half, especially Kevin Durkin (Buffalo, NY/St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute) and Jeremiah Zitz."
LeMorta scored a team high, 23 points, going 5-10 from behind the arc. Dagon had 15 points and three assists. Brown notched a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Elliot Bowen (Salamanca, NY/Ellicottville) and Cole Eells (Ithaca, NY/Ithaca) also each scored 11 while Stopera dished out a team high six assists.
The Saxons will be back in Alfred next Saturday for a matchup with Houghton College at 4PM.