ALFRED, NY – The Alfred University men's basketball team kept rolling on Friday evening with an Empire 8 semi-final win on its own court. The Saxons (22-4, 15-2 Empire 8) took down the Ducks from Stevens Institute of Technology by a score of 80-57 to advance to the Empire 8 championship game.
The win is the Saxons third and most convincing victory over the Ducks this season and gives them their second ever birth to the Empire 8 Championship round.
It was a tightly contested first half between the two ball clubs as both were earlier in the season. With the score tied at 15 and 8:37 remaining in the first half, the Saxons began to pick up the pace.
Dom LeMorta (Scotia, NY/Scotia-Glenville), Scotty Stopera (Scotia, NY/Scotia-Glenville) and Cole Eells (Ithaca, NY/Ithaca) all hit three-pointers during a 14-5 run to put the Saxons up 29-20 at the 4:48 mark of the first half.
Brewster Marshall (Horseheads, NY/Horseheads) got his mid-range game going late in the first half while Sage Brown (Cortland, NY/Cortland) went to work inside and grabbed some big rebounds to give the Saxons a comfortable 41-25 halftime lead.
Coming out of the break, Eells and LeMorta each hit triples to help push the Saxon lead up to 24 points.
Brown continued to punish the Ducks on the glass throughout the second half and made some acrobatic layups to keep the Saxons ahead 58-36 with just over nine minutes to play.
Stevens made some late threes and were able to get into the double bonus early in the second half to cut the deficit to as little as 16, but the Saxons put their foot on the gas and advanced to tomorrow's championship game with a 23 point victory over the Ducks.
Brown was spectacular on both ends for the Saxons, notching a team high 19 points and grabbing a career best 18 boards on the night. Stopera finished with 15 points and five assists. Eells had 14 points and two steals while LeMorta scored 13. Marshall ended with a double double, scoring 10 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.
"This was our goal all year long," Head Coach Russell Phillips said. "We wanted to get to this spot and we wanted to do it by going 1-0 each game and now we have a chance to go 1-0 for a championship. The fan and community support has been unbelievable and has made a huge difference. You can feel it around campus and we wouldn't have been able to get here without them so we're really appreciative of all the fans and we're looking forward to coming in tomorrow with a chance to cut down the nets."
Following the AU and Stevens's matchup, St. John Fisher College took down Nazareth College by a score of 98-90 in an overtime thriller to advance to the championship game against the Saxons.
The teams have already faced off twice this season with AU coming out on top in both of those games.
The matchup will seem familiar to many Saxon Fans, as the Cardinals were Alfred's opponents in the 2015 Empire 8 championship game hosted by St. John Fisher when the Cardinals won 77-62.
The Terry S. Galanis Family Arena will surely be a packed house once again when the teams tip off tomorrow at 3:30PM.