By Steven Merritt
CANTON – The Vassar College Men’s Basketball team suffered a hard-fought defensive battle on the road against St. Lawrence, 47-44, on Saturday afternoon. Senior Kevin McAuliffe dropped in nine points for the Brewers as they fall to 7-5 overall and 4-2 in Liberty League play while the Saints improved to 7-5 overall and 3-2 in conference action.
St. Lawrence opened up the first six minutes with a 9-5 advantage as Trent Adamson tallied four points along with a triple from Will Engelhardt. Back to back three-pointers from sophomore Alan Cedeno and senior Ben Freed responded for Vassar and gave the Brewers an one-point advantage with 11:04 remaining in the first half. The two squads were not separated by more than three points over the final 14 minutes of the first half as the score was knotted at 24 apiece following an Engelhardt triple right before the horn.
The Saints scored the first six points of the second half as Adamson converted all six to gain the team’s largest lead at the 17:21 mark. Senior Zev Katz ended the run for the Brewers with a triple with 14:37 left in the contest and classmate Michael Dixon tied the game back up at 31 on a layup at the 11:20 mark.
St. Lawrence’s Liam McDonald buried a triple at the 10:08 mark to push the Saints ahead by three as neither team found the scoreboard until just under eight minutes remaining in the second half. Following a layup from senior Jack Rothenberg that cut the lead to 40-42 with 5:19 remaining, St. Lawrence’s Trey Syroka converted a lay-in on a feed from Engelhardt to push the lead up to four just a few seconds later.
Senior Ethan Ellis’ made free throw with two minutes remaining in the contest cut the lead to three points before Saints’ Gavin Macauley converted a free throw with 38 seconds left and a steal and bucket from Syroka with 14 seconds remaining clinched the St. Lawrence victory. A late free throw from Rothenberg and a putback from junior Logan Scott were able to cut the lead to three with just a couple seconds remaining as the Saints held on for a 47-44 victory.
McAuliffe converted three triples for his nine points for Vassar while senior Avni Mustafaj added seven points and seven rebounds. Senior Zach Johnson chipped in six points and four rebounds while Scott finished with four points, seven rebounds, two assists and a steal and a block.
Syroka was the top scorer for St. Lawrence with 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting and added a game-high five steals. Adamson converted 11 points along with a game-high eight rebounds and two blocks. Engelhardt knocked down two triples, in addition to handing out two assists.
The Brewers finished the contest shooting 29.6-percent from the field and just 5-for-26 from three-point range. The Saints shot 37.8-percent overall and finished 3-for-14 from three-point territory. St. Lawrence finished with three more made free throws and converted 24 points in the paint. The Brewers finished with a 16-9 edge in second chance points while grabbing 19 offensive rebounds.