Lakers Mount Huge Comeback – Wins OT Hoops Thriller

OSWEGO, N.Y. – It took yet another huge comeback, but the 14th-ranked Oswego State men’s basketball team is moving on to the second round of the NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Tournament for the second straight year following a 72-71 overtime win over Endicott College (Mass.) at Max Ziel Gymnasium on Friday night.

The Lakers trailed by 13 points in the early stages of the second half and by four with less than two minutes left in regulation. However, Oswego State had all the momentum when Chad Burridge (Hannibal, N.Y.) created a jump shot to cut the lead to 66-64 with 1:37 remaining.

Following an Endicott miss on the other end, Conor Monaghan (Brooklyn, N.Y.) was fouled while grabbing the rebound and his two free throws tied the game with 1:03 to play.

Endicott next committed its 17th turnover of the game, handing the ball back to Oswego State with 45 seconds remaining.

The Lakers worked the ball inside to Burridge as the shot clock ran down. The senior missed a contested lay-up and the scrum for the rebound was called a jump ball. However, with just one second left on the shot clock, the Lakers could not get a decent shot off.

Endicott put the ball in the hands of its leading scorer, Lance Greene, on its final possession, but Burridge drew a charge in the lane and got the ball back for Oswego State with 2.3 seconds left on the clock.

Burridge threw a long pass from the far baseline to Hayden Ward (Jr., Montauk, N.Y.) at the top of the key, who caught the ball and drove to his left, drawing a foul as time expired with the score tied at 66-66.

However, Ward, who was three of 10 from the line in the game, missed both attempts to send the game into overtime.

Greene drew a foul and scored the first points in overtime, but after Burridge matched the score on the other end, Greene was forced to the bench with five fouls after an offensive foul scoring 21 points.

With Greene on the out of the game, Endicott struggled to create offense. Meanwhile, Burridge backed his way into the lane to give the Lakers a 70-68 lead with 2:11 left in overtime.

Burridge blocked his third shot of the game on the next possession, but a Laker miss kept Endicott’s hopes alive.

However, an Endicott turnover gave the Lakers the ball back with 37 seconds left. Burridge slammed home his second dunk of the game with five seconds left before Endicott hit a half court shot at the buzzer for a 72-71 final score.

Burridge finished with 30 points and seven rebounds, including a key 12 points in the first half. The Lakers were carried offensively by just three players throughout the game, one of the many uncharacteristic statistics from the game.

Sean Michele (Sr., East Rochester, N.Y.) scored a career-high 19 points, while Ward finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds. The rest of the normally balanced Lakers combined for just five points.

Two other rarities occurred for the Lakers in the first half, as Oswego State went just two of 11 from three-point range and three of six from the free throw line in the first 20 minutes.

The poor shooting by the Lakers and 12 points on 3-for-3 shooting from beyond the arc by Endicott’s Aaron Karkow, helped the Gulls pull in front 33-25 with a 6-0 run with four minutes left in the half. Karkow came in averaging just 5.2 points per game, but finished with 14 against the Lakers.

Oswego State was able to stay keep the game close before halftime though, thanks to Ward scoring the final eight points of the half for the Lakers.

Up 37-31 at the half, Endicott grabbed all the momentum once again. The Gulls hit a pair of three-pointers and went on an 11-2 run, taking a 48-35 lead, their largest of the game.

The Lakers turned to their senior captain to get them back in the game and Burridge responded in a big way. The third-ranked leading scorer in school history scored the next 11 Laker points before Ward and Michele each hit big three-pointers to cut the lead to 60-53 with 8:10 remaining in the half.

Michele hit his fourth three-pointer with 4:12 left following a Laker offensive rebound, cutting the gap to just 62-59.

The two teams traded points for the next two minutes until Burridge’s jumper and Monaghan’s free throws tied the game with 1:03 left, setting the table for the wild finish.

Greene finished with 21 points to pace the Gulls, while Eric Callo had 14 rebounds and 12 points for the visitors.

While the Lakers won the turnover battle 20-9, the home team had just six assists in the game, another strange statistic for a winning Laker team.

The victory moved the Lakers into the second round of the NCAA tournament for the second straight season. The Lakers will face Eastern Connecticut State University (23-5), who topped Medaille College (25-3), 66-51, in the other first round game in Max Ziel Gymnasium Friday night.