By Kirti Chakote
“I think it has been the great senior leadership we have had this season that’s made the difference,” said captain Keven Donohue ‘13, who is the Union Men’s Basketball starting center. “Our five seniors have been together for four seasons, so in that time we have learned what it takes to close out big games.”
It is this focus to detail and great leadership that has helped the men’s basketball team (16-3 overall, 8-2 conference) put together one of the best seasons in the program’s history thus far. Going into this past weekend, the team had won eight of its past 10 games. The team played St. Lawrence (6-10 overall, 4-3 conference) on Friday, and then on Saturday traveled to Saratoga Springs to play Skidmore (13-6 overall, 7-3 conference), with the hopes of redeeming one of those losses in the past 10 games.
Against the Saints, the Dutchmen flexed their muscles as one of the power teams in the conference. Although trailing 15-14 with 13:20 left in the first half, Union went on a 17-2 run in the next 7:55 to open up the contest. Union took a 45-29 lead into the half.
St. Lawrence got as close as 11 points at 50-39 with 14:08 left in the second half, but the Dutchmen then went on a 9-0 run for a 59-39 lead with 12:34 left to pull further away.
Union routed the team 83-62. Donohue scored 28 points and senior captain and guard Joe Mason dished out eight assists with 13 points to lead the team.
The following day, Union successfully avenged its loss against Skidmore. The Dutchmen grabbed an early 19-9 lead, before the Thoroughbreds worked their way back in it with a 10-2 run to get within two points of the Dutchmen, 21-19, as 11:25 was left in the first half. Skidmore eventually took the lead for the first time, making it 26-25 on a layup. The teams would exchange leads three times before the Thoroughbreds took a 39-36 edge into the half.
Union regained the lead at the 16:00 mark of the second half, 47-46, on a three-pointer by guard Terrell Winney ‘15. The teams would continue to trade baskets and the lead. Eventually, on a Mason jumper, the Dutchmen would go in front, 49-48, with 14:29 to play.
As the time dwindled down with 1:58 to play, the Dutchmen still led by 10 at 76-66. However, the Thoroughbreds battled to keep it close, getting within four points on a put back with 26 seconds left. Fortunately, Mason would go 3-4 from the line the rest of the way for the 82-75 final. Mason led the way with 24 points, 12 rebounds and four assists. Winney had 20 points, Donuhue had 18 points and senior guard Evan Croll had 10 points and four assists.
With such a successful season, the team has realized that it has to be dominant in three statistical categories to continue its impressive performance: field goal percentage defense, assist turnover ratio and percentage of assists.
If it continues to improve and show complete control in these statistics, Union knows no one can measure up to it.
“We don’t want to leave anything behind,” Donohue stated on discussing what he hopes to accomplish for his final season. “It might be the last time us seniors compete at this high of a level, so we just want to close out the rest of the season the way we know we can.”
The quest for league title and hopefully a NCAA tournament bid continues on Tuesday against RIT in the Viniar Athletic Center at 8 p.m. So be sure to come out and support your Dutchmen.