Pat Rivers, Assistant Sports Editor
The Utica College men’s basketball team lost a close one against Alfred University, losing 76-70.
The Pioneers played well throughout the game, keeping it close. But Alfred hit some key shots in the end to pull out the victory. Junior Agim “Iggy” Hamiti and senior Robert Tutein led UC in scoring with 21 points each.
UC’s team looks a lot different for the second half of the season, due to a couple player departures and a few key additions. Hamiti is one of those key additions and head coach Chris Connolly is glad to have him back.
“Iggy helps us in a lot of ways, obviously he’s another ball-handler for us, he’s a junior, he’s got great size at 6’4,” Connolly said. “When he’s driving aggressively and finishing at the rim and finding guys, he really just adds a different aspect to our team, so it’s good to have him back”
The Pioneers made 10 of 20 three-point attempts against Alfred. Tutein made four of them, Hamiti made three, and freshmen Seamus McHugh added two. Sophomore point guard Carl Taylor, who assisted on two of those three-pointers, was pleased with the team’s shooting performance.
“I think the guys did a great job of knocking down shots, “ Taylor said. “We just didn’t bounce back with the same effectiveness on defense.”
Tyler Seelman led Alfred in scoring with 17 points. He also added five assists. Jeremy Johnson posted 13 points and five rebounds for the visiting Saxons as well. As a team, Alfred did not shoot the ball well on the night. The Saxons shot 46 percent from the field, 26 percent from three and 50 percent from the free-throw stripe.
Alfred scored 44 points in the paint and 28 points off of turnovers in the game. UC only scored 20 points in the paint and 14 points off of turnovers. The Pioneers also had zero fast break points in the game. Fast break points usually come off of steals, and UC only had six total steals on the night. The overall performance was not a recipe for success for the Saxons or the Pioneers.
Somebody had to pull off the sloppy win. It just happened to be Alfred and a big factor could have been experience as they have nine upperclassmen on the roster. Yet UC’ Tutein thinks otherwise.
“They take care of the ball, they don’t make too many mistakes,” he said. “That’s why we only had six steals.”
UC has been battling and competing each game and often times coming up just short. They have a young team, and many players aren’t used to late-game pressure and stepping up when it counts.
Overall, the Pioneers are a lot better than their record persists. UC is coming down the stretch of the season and have a few games left to prove themselves as future contenders in the Empire 8 Conference.
They will play Elmira College and Houghton College this weekend in hopes of getting back on the right track heading into the final weeks of the season.