By Amie Canfield
POUGHKEEPSIE – Led by a career-high 22 points from senior guard Kevin McAuliffe, the Vassar men’s basketball team came-from-behind for a 61-48 win over Mount Saint Mary’s College in the final game of the 2022 Hudson Valley Classic at the AFC Gymnasium on Saturday. The Brewers move to 3-1 on the season, while the Knights are now 1-3 overall.
Vassar, which trailed by a 25-19 margin at halftime, came out firing in the second half as McAuliffe dropped in a pair of three’s within the opening two minutes. His makes from beyond the arc turned a six-point deficit into a 26-25 advantage at the 18:03 mark. The senior continued to shine, nailing two more shots from downtown, in addition to a make at the free throw line, to give Vassar a 33-25 lead with 16:08 on the clock. The Knights countered over a two-minute span as shots from junior forward Elijah Barnett and sophomore forwards Jayden Racca and Jayden Figueroa helped the visitors keep pace for a 37-31 margin with 14:11 remaining.
Senior guard Zev Katz sank a pair of shots at the line, opening the Brewers lead to eight (39-31), but a three-pointer from Figueroa, coupled with a jumper from freshman guard Brenden Graham saw the lead narrow to three (39-36) at 11:22. Another three from McAuliffe pushed the lead back, but the Knights responded as junior guard Chris Yearwood drained a layup and hit the and-one to keep the Vassar lead at three (42-39) with 9:44 on the clock. The Brewers continued to answer at their end as senior guard Jack Rothenberg dropped in a trey of his own, while McAuliffe nailed another shot from downtown at the 7:20 mark (48-39).
Aided by a three-pointer from sophomore guard Luke Adams and a layup from junior forward Logan Scott, the Brewers continued to add to their lead late in the contest, pushing the margin into double-figures. The Knights attempted to cut it down as Barnett sank a layup and connected on the and-1, but a technical foul and common foul on Mount Saint Mary’s sent both McAuliffe and senior captain Avni Mustafaj to the line – both hitting one of two for a 59-47 lead with 1:17 remaining. The Brewers capitalized at the line in the final seconds as sophomore guard Alan Cedeno hit his shots to close out the scoring.
McAuliffe paced all players with his game-best 22 points – including 6-of-12 from three-point range, adding three rebounds and two assists with a steal. Adams came-off-the-bench to record 10 points with four boards and an assist, while senior guard Ethan Ellis had seven points, five boards, two assists and a steal. Junior forward Case Parsons led the Brewers with 11 rebounds to go along with five points, a steal and a game-best two blocks, while Mustafaj led all players with four assists to go with five points and six rebounds.
The Knights were led by Yearwood’s 13 points, as he added a board with an assist and two steals. Sophomore forward Connor Cyron added 11 points with six boards, while Figueroa led all players with 13 rebounds to go along with nine points, an assist and a game-high two blocks.
Vassar is now idle for the holiday break, but returns to action on December 2 when it opens Liberty League play on the road at Ithaca College.