Men's basketball rallies, then holds off Oneonta for win

Hamilton College’s Peter Kazickas '15 came off the bench and recorded his second career double-double as the Continentals rallied for a 69-66 non-conference win against SUNY Oneonta at Hamilton’s Margaret Bundy Scott Field House on Jan. 29.

Hans Schulte '13 knocked down a pair of free throws for the Continentals with 3.8 seconds left for the final points of the game. The Red Dragons inbounded the ball and called a timeout near midcourt with 2.3 seconds left. Jack Dignan '16 received a pass on the left wing and squeezed off a fadeaway 3-pointer, but it missed the basket.

Kazickas tied his career high with 16 points and grabbed a season-best 10 rebounds. Matt Hart '16 scored a game-high 17 points and Greg Newton '14 added 10. Hart entered the night ranked third in Division III among freshmen with 15.7 points per game. Eric Benvenuti '13 chipped in eight points off the bench.

Zach Mager '15 and Jackson Zuvic '16 notched 15 points apiece for the Red Dragons. Mager and Frankie Kelly '15 dished out a game-high five assists apiece. Dignan contributed 11 points, seven boards and three steals.

Oneonta (2-16 overall) scored the first seven points and pushed their lead to 12-2 with three minutes gone in the first half. The Red Dragons connected on their first five shots as Zuvic was 3-for-3 and racked up seven early points. The Continentals scored eight of the next 10 and closed to within 14-10 after Hart’s steal and dunk. Oneonta answered with six straight for a 20-10 advantage with 11:56 remaining in the half.

The Red Dragons grabbed their largest lead at 28-15 and matched it again at 33-20 with 3:39 left after a 3-pointer by Dignan. The Continentals closed out the half with a 10-2 run and trailed 35-30 at the break. Kazickas scored six points and Lin added four free throws during the spurt.

Zuvic tallied 13 points in the first half and the Red Dragons shot 50 percent from the field, including 4 of 9 from long range. The Continentals missed all six of their 3-point attempts in the opening half.

Ken Click '13 opened the second half with a turnaround jumper and added a free throw, and Hamilton was down 35-33 with less than a minute gone. However, a 9-2 run by Oneonta pushed its lead to 44-35 thanks to six points by Mager and a 3-pointer by Dignan.

Trailing 47-40, the Continentals went on another 10-2 run and took their first lead at 50-49. Kazickas sparked the run with a trifecta and Benvenuti converted two free throws. Newton intercepted a pass at midcourt and took it in for a layup, and Kazickas closed out the run with another 3-pointer.

Oneonta reclaimed the lead at 53-52, but a Hart trifecta began a 13-3 run that put Hamilton up for good. Hart scored all 13 Hamilton points and the Continentals led 65-56 with 6:47 remaining. Dan Lee '14 made a layup for the Red Dragons and Newton responded with a jumper, which proved to be the last basket of the night for the home team.

The Red Dragons cut the Hamilton lead to 67-62 after Dignan knocked down a shot from beyond the arc. Dignan added a layup with 1:44 left to make it a one-possession game at 67-64. Hamilton turned the ball over and Zuvic threw down a dunk to make it 67-66 with 1:21 on the clock.

Hamilton (10-10) stepped up its defense and forced Oneonta to miss its next two 3-point attempts. Schulte grabbed a long rebound on the second miss with 3.8 seconds left and hit two free throws for the final margin. The Continentals lead the all-time series, 5-1. The Red Dragons dropped their seventh straight game.

“Oneonta played with a great fire and enthusiasm throughout the game that set us back on our heels," head coach Adam Stockwell said. "Their intensity and execution put a lot of pressure on our defense. In the second half, we were fortunate to force a few turnovers and they missed a few free throws that really helped towards the end. It was a game that could have gone either way and we were very lucky to get the win.”

Hamilton shot 36.7 percent (24-59) for the night, but was 5 of 8 from beyond the arc in the second half. Oneonta shot 46.2 percent (24-52), and rebounds were even at 33 apiece. The Continentals entered the game ranked 25th in Division III in free-throw shooting at 74.8 percent. Hamilton made 76.2 percent (16-21) against the Red Dragons. The Continentals committed just eight turnovers.

Hamilton returns to NESCAC play at home against Connecticut College on Friday, Feb. 1. Oneonta hosts SUNY Plattsburgh on Friday.

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