Vassar Brewers Fall to RIT, 78-70 on Saturday

ROCHESTER – The Vassar men’s basketball team fell 78-70 to RIT on Saturday afternoon in Liberty League play. The Brewers move to 10-4 overall and 6-2 in the conference, while the Tigers are now 4-6 and 2-2 in the Liberty League.

After a slow start, the Brewers got on the board first following an Ethan Ellis three-pointer at 18:33. The Tigers netted the next two baskets to take the lead, but a Zach Johnson and a trey from Kevin McAulliffe put Vassar up 8-4. RIT used an 8-0 run capped off with a turnaround jumper by Michael Young to take a 12-8 lead at 12:37.

The Tigers held a slight lead and took a 15-10 lead following a Young triple. Avni Mustfaj responded with a three-pointer the next possession, but RIT’s Chase Lewis answered with another three for the Tigers. Jack Rothenberg fed the ball to McAuliffe for an open triple at 9:16, which tied the game 18-18.

RIT took a three-point lead at 6:57, but Johnson and then Ben Freed drained a triple to give the Brewers a 25-23 advantage. A couple of back-and-forth baskets followed until Michael Dixon hit a jumper to make it 31-27. Vassar led by six points with a minute to play, but RIT closed out the half on a 4-0 run to make it 34-32.

There were three ties in the first five minutes in the second half. The Tigers’ Kris Laing hit a trey at 14:42 to give RIT a 44-41 lead, which they held for the remainder of the game. RIT took a nine-point lead following a Laing pull-up jumper at 12:41, but the Brewers always managed the game close. A 6-0 Vassar with two Johnson layups cut the deficit to four, and then Mustafaj made it 50-53 when he scored at 8:01. RIT dismantled any Vassar momentum, using a 10-0 span to go up 63-50 with under six minutes to play. Mustafaj went on to net six consecutive points to lessen the lead to five at 2:36.

Vassar fought until the end but was forced to foul the Tigers down the stretch. RIT converted its free throws and held on for the win.

Mustafaj led the Brewers with 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting, while Johnson picked up his 11th double-double behind 21 points and 19 rebounds. He also added three assists and two steals. Ellis scored 11 points and grabbed three boards.

RIT finished with four double-digit scorers in Andrew Fox (20 points), Young (15 points), Laing (12 points), and Brock Bowen (11 points). Fox grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.
Vassar travels to play RPI next on Jan. 21 at 7:30 p.m.

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