OSWEGO, N.Y. – Senior Chris Gilkes (Syracuse, N.Y.) scored a career-high 24 points and nabbed a crucial steal down the stretch to power the Oswego State men’s basketball team (11-2, 4-2 SUNYAC) to an important 79-69 conference win over Buffalo State (8-4, 3-3 SUNYAC) on Saturday.
Gilkes took the ball off the hands of Anthony Hamer and went coast-to-coast for a layup with a minute left to stop the Bengals momentum and seal the victory for the Lakers. The layup pushed Gilkes past his previous career high of 23 points, which he tied earlier in the week. Hayden Ward (Sr., Montauk, N.Y.) contributed his fourth double-double of the season with 23 points and 11 boards.
Buffalo State trailed 16-12 midway through the first half, but stole the momentum with a 16-3 run brought on by pressure defense and transition offense. Trailing 28-19, the Lakers turned in a run of their own, finishing the half on a 21-7 run to gain a 39-36 halftime lead.
The Laker starters started the second half with bang, registering a 13-0 run to blow the game wide open at 52-36. Gilkes tallied nine points during the run, while also grabbing three of his eight rebounds.
Buffalo State fought hard to stay close, never allowing the lead to hit 20 points. The Bengals hard work paid off when the Laker offense stalled when the score reached 73-60. The Bengals scored eight unanswered points, cutting the deficit down to five points with 1:49 remaining.
After Ward missed a three-pointer, the Bengals had a chance to move even closer, but Gilkes came up with a huge steal for the Lakers to stop the Buffalo State momentum. Oswego State went 4-for-5 from the charity stripe to seal the win in the game’s waning moments.
Roderick Epps led the Bengals with 17 points, while Chris Castren also chipped in 10.
The Lakers are off for the week before they host Brockport at 8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 18.