BUFFALO, N.Y. – The Oswego State men’s basketball team (14-4, 7-5 SUNYAC) looked to extend its one-game lead in the SUNYAC standings over the Buffalo State Bengals (12-6, 7-5 SUNYAC), Friday night at the Buffalo Sports Arena, but came up short, losing 88-81, despite a career night from Chris Gilkes (Sr., Syracuse, N.Y.), who scored 26 points and collected 14 rebounds.
The Lakers found themselves trailing early as the Bengals ripped off ten unanswered points to take a 12-2 lead. The visitors recovered midway through the first half when Sean Michele (Sr., East Rochester, N.Y.) found a hot-handed Kyle Covley (Fr., Penfield, N.Y.) for a three-pointer, cutting the Buffalo State lead to five. Minutes later, the Lakers capitalized on a Bengal turnover when Covley connected for another trey to bring Oswego State within striking distance. The visitors took a one-point lead for a brief period of time on the next possession as Gilkes found Michele for yet another basket from behind the arc.
Buffalo State regrouped in the closing minutes of the first half when it ripped off another run, scoring 10 consecutive points to go into halftime holding a 43-31 advantage.
The home team continued to apply pressure in the second half, stretching its lead to 16 with nearly four minutes left in the contest before the Lakers mounted a comeback. Gilkes was on fire in the final minutes of the second half, scoring 11 points in a three-minute stretch to bring Oswego State within five with 57 ticks left in the game. Coach Leone’s squad resorted to fouling to save precious time, but the Bengals converted on all six free-throw attempts in the final minute to close the contest with an 88-81 victory.
Gilkes exploded in the second half, scoring 24 of his 26 points, including ten from the free-throw line. He finished the game with an impressive line including 26 points, 14 boards, four steals and two dimes. Covley added 14, while connecting on three from downtown. Daniel Ross (Jr., Syracuse, N.Y.) finished with 12 points. Buffalo State’s Jake Simmons had a game-high 31.
The Lakers will be in Fredonia Saturday when they face the Blue Devils at 4 p.m.