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Men's basketball edges Elmira on OT buzzer beater

Hamilton College's Matt Hart '16 grabbed an offensive rebound and made a jumper from the right baseline just as the buzzer sounded to lift the Continentals to an 85-83 overtime win against the Elmira College Soaring Eagles in a non-conference game at Hamilton's Margaret Bundy Scott Field House on Jan. 21.

Video of Game-Winning Shot
Box Score

Hart finished with a career-high 30 points on 11 of 15 shooting from the floor, including 4 of 5 from beyond the arc, and he went 4-for-4 at the free-throw line. He is tied for second in the NESCAC with 20.8 points per game.

Ajani Santos '16 dropped in a career-best 11 points, Bradley Gifford '15 scored nine and Greg Newton '14 and Jack Donnelly '16 added eight apiece. Peter Kazickas '15 chipped in eight points and seven rebounds off the bench. The Continentals shot 58.3 percent (35-60) from the field and held a 33-32 edge on the glass.

Neil Randolph '15 led five Elmira players in double figures in scoring with 19 points. Randolph was 4 of 5 from 3-point range. Josh Keys '14 posted 13 points and Matt Newell '14, Chris Cassidy '14 and Brian McDonald '15 had 10 each. Derrick Vogel '14 recorded nine points, six boards and a game-high six assists. The Soaring Eagles went 17-for-18 (94.4 percent) at the line, and their nine steals helped force 17 Hamilton turnovers.

Elmira (5-9 overall) grabbed an early 5-2 lead but six straight points by the Continentals put them in front 8-5. A layup by Santos made it 6-5 with 15:46 left, and the Soaring Eagles didn't lead again until the first minute of overtime.

Hamilton (9-8) took its first double-digit lead of the night at 25-13 on a 3-pointer by Kyle Pitman '17 with 10:05 remaining in the first half. The Continentals' largest lead during the first 20 minutes was 19 points at 48-29 after Matt Dean '14 just beat the halftime buzzer with a layup. Hamilton shot a blistering 65.6 percent (21-32) in the opening half.

The Continentals scored the first points out of the break and held a 21-point lead three times early in the second half. Hamilton still enjoyed a comfortable 70-52 advantage after Donnelly drained a jumper with 9:37 to go.

Elmira came roaring back in the final nine minutes of regulation. The Soaring Eagles went on a 10-0 run and pulled within 70-62 with 5:57 left. After a Gifford jumper restored the Continentals' double-digit lead at 74-64 with 4:43 remaining, Elmira finished the second half with a 12-2 run.

Vogel started the spurt with a basket and Keys nailed a trifecta. Randolph made a layup and added a 3-pointer, and McDonald converted a layup that tied the score at 76-76 with 46 seconds to go. The Continentals turned the ball over with 17 seconds left, Hart blocked a shot attempt by the Soaring Eagles out-of-bounds from close range with 3.2 seconds remaining and Elmira badly missed two shots in the final two seconds that would have won the game in regulation. The Soaring Eagles shot 56 percent (19-34) in the second half, including 8 of 13 from long range.

Two free throws by Keys 35 seconds into overtime gave the Soaring Eagles their first lead since early in the first half. Hart tied the score at 78-78 on a driving layup, and the score was tied three more times at 80, 82 and 83-all.

Elmira missed a layup with 31 seconds to go and Santos grabbed the defensive rebound. Hamilton called a timeout with 13 seconds left to set up a play, and Donnelly had a nice look at a 3-pointer from the left corner. The ball bounced hard off the rim, Hart grabbed it and swished a tough 12-footer from behind the backboard.

The Continentals won their seventh straight game against the Soaring Eagles and Hamilton leads the all-time series, 14-3.

The Continentals travel to Williams College for a NESCAC game on Saturday, Jan. 25. Elmira is at St. John Fisher College on Friday, Jan. 24.

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