By Kirti Chakote
While most Union students were vacationing, sleeping until the afternoon or simply lazing around during their winter break, the men’s basketball team (12-2 overall, 4-1 conference) was hard at work reaching its best start (10-1) in 56 seasons. The team was also riding one of the programs best winning streaks with 10 games going into this past weekend.
The Dutchmen have a 15-man roster for the 2012-2013 season, comprised of six upperclassmen and nine underclassmen. Leading the way are starting center, Keven Donohue ‘13, and guards, Joe Mason ‘13 and Matt Petrone ‘13, who all serve as the team’s captains.
Donohue, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder (averaging 17.2 points per game and 8.9 rebounds per game), has been a three-time Liberty League player of the week and is a returning member of the Liberty League All-Second Team. Mason is the team’s second leading scorer, the team’s leading assist man (averaging 16.8 points per game and 5.1 assists per game), has been a Liberty League player of the week and is also a returning member of the Liberty League All-Second Team.
Another notable player is sophomore starting guard Terell Winney, who is the third leading scorer (averaging 10.2 points per game) and is a returning member of the All-Liberty Rookie Team.
Approximately midway through their 10-game winning streak, Union had put on impressive performances to be ranked among the top of many key statistical national categories. Of the 446 institutions in Division III, the Dutchmen were ranked third in three-point field goal defense, 11th in assist turnover ratio and 15th in turnovers per game.
However, Union and these impressive statistics were put to the test this past weekend against Skidmore College (9-5 overall, 3-2 conference) on Friday and RPI (7-6 overall, 2-2 conference) on Saturday.
Unfortunately, it would be the defending league champions of Skidmore who would end Union’s stellar winning streak. The Thoroughbreds shot 56 percent in the first half, 14 for 25, for a 41-36 lead at halftime. They came out strong and went on a 14-1 run in the first 6:50 minutes of the second half. Union got as close as eight points with 9:53 left on a dunk by Donohue to make it 57-49, but Skidmore led by as many as 15 points with 3:15 remaining. In the final 2:01, the Thoroughbreds made six free throws to seal the triumph at 76-66. Consistent with their scoring positions, Donohue led the team with 21 points and eight rebounds and Mason followed closely with 20 points and five boards.
In the next game, Union would rebound nicely against RPI, winning 90-72. The Dutchmen led 61-38 at halftime by making 22 of 36 shots, including four of 11 from three-point range and 13 of 17 from the free-throw line. Defensively, Union held the Engineers to just 37 percent shooting overall and 29 percent from three-point range, while out rebounding their guests, 26-14. In the second half, Union was up by 18 with 16:33 left and went on a 17-5 run for the largest lead of the night, 80-50. RPI got as close as 16 points with 4:45 left at 84-68. Donohue matched his career high with 27 points, while Mason had a double-double of 13 points and 11 assists. Winney was the second leading scorer at 17 points.
The Dutchmen are a team to be reckoned with this season. Being ranked highly in national statistical categories and putting together impressive win streaks, Union is poised to make a solid run at the Liberty League title and earn a possible NCAA Tournament bid.
The team’s scorching performance continues on at Bard College at 8 p.m. this Friday.