Men’s basketball fights to clinch playoff berth

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Deshon Burgess '17 competes during a men's basketball game. The Dutchmen are currently in a five-team battle for a berth in the league tournament
Deshon Burgess ’17 competes during a men’s basketball game. The Dutchmen are currently in a five-team battle for a berth in the league tournament

Heading into the final weekend of the regular season, the fight for the last two spots in the Liberty League tournament has turned into a five-team competition. Union, after dropping two games this past weekend, lost their opportunity to lock down a playoff appearance, and will look to games against RIT and Hobart to save their season.

After beating RIT in a tight game last Tuesday, the Dutchmen went into the weekend with a chance to clinch a Liberty League tournament appearance and coast easily into postseason play. However, a Friday night rivalry game against RPI and a Saturday matinee against conference leader Skidmore were far from kind to the Dutchmen. Union lost the games by a combined 28 points after blowing an 11 point halftime lead to Skidmore.

As for the rest of the Liberty League, Union will now be in a battle between Hobart, Clarkson, RIT and RPI for the third and fourth seeds. Union will play RIT and Hobart, both of which should be close games.

The Dutchmen first met up with RIT just over a week ago in a game that could have gone either way. Union led 71-70 with 17 seconds left before missing two free throws and narrowly avoiding a loss from a late game-winning try from three by the Tigers.

Similarly, Union’s first meeting with Hobart was an overtime affair on the road that was forced into a third period by a late three-pointer by Deshon Burgess ’17. The Dutchmen went on to win the game, led by 25 points from Burgess and an additional 20 from Greg King ’18.

A sweep of the games this weekend would give Union the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament and a chance at the title game after playing either Skidmore or St. Lawrence, teams the Dutchmen are a combined 1-8 against over the past two seasons. Perhaps the biggest of concerns for the team heading into the final weekend of the regular season will be the absence over the last two games of captain Wade McNamara ’17 due to injury.

McNamara has been the team’s leading rebounder and second leading scorer over the course of the year, and was sorely missed in the team’s losses this past weekend when the team failed to find a scorer over 15 points as the second option behind Burgess. The Dutchmen will head to Rochester to face RIT on Friday night, and are set to host Hobart on Sunday afternoon with their postseason prospects on the line.

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