Photo by Curtis Ashley / Beaver Beat
By Curtis Ashley
It’s been a recurring theme for the City College Men’s basketball team, so much that one doesn’t have to state it. But for all intents and purposes, it must be addressed. It’s the team’s inability to close out. The most recent case: the 69-68 loss to Medgar Evers on Tuesday night. And with the CUNYAC Tournament starting for the guys on Thursday, there’s little to no time to find a solution.
City finishes with an overall record of 13-12, their first winning record since the ’02-’03 season when the team finished 17-11. That year, the guys won it all, taking the chip with an 84-79 victory over Baruch College. The team finishes the season with a conference record of 7-9.
After a Tuesday filled with conference games that had a few tournament implications, City finds themselves still in the number six spot. This means they will face the number seven seed, York College, in the first round on Thursday. It will be their first time appearing in a playoff game at home since the ’06-’07 tournament when they faced City Tech. That was also the last time they won a game in the postseason, defeating the Yellow Jackets 70-61. City would be eliminated in the semifinals after losing to York 62-65. The match-up on Thursday certainly holds some added significance when this is put into perspective.
In the game against Medgar Evers, it was the players who have performed well all season long that put up the biggest numbers, though it still wasn’t enough to knock off the Cougars. Mark Richards led the game in scoring with 23 points, along with seven rebounds, two assists, and a pair of blocks and steals on defense. Khalil Hamer scored 14, putting him over the 1,000 career point mark, a feat that went almost unnoticed due to the outcome of the game. He also had nine rebounds and seven assists in the game. Senior Blake Borysewicz also put up some big numbers. He had 11 points, along with seven rebounds and two blocks.
“My performance was good, but we didn’t get the win, so honestly it doesn’t really mean anything to me right now,” Richards said after the game.
It almost doesn’t matter how either team performed in the game up until the nine minute mark. It was a tied game, each team with 52 points. City was able to jump out nine points in front of MEC off a shot by Richards, and it looked as though they could take control of the game. But as fate would have it, the Cougars would fight back to get the score to 67-68, City still with the lead. One missed shot by Hamer, followed by a turnover by Hamer on the very next possession led to Justin Sutton of MEC taking the game-winning free throw shots.
“Just was a crazy game all the way through. Just back-and-forth. Either team could have easily won this game for sure. We thought we had it won, they thought they had it won at some points,” Head Coach Tom Green said in a post-game interview.
The game against Medgar Evers isn’t the first of its kind. This only adds to what has become an extensive list of games where the Beavers were unable to close out a game to put an opponent away. It’s not the first time they had a chance to win and blew it. But if anything, this is their most dangerous loss yet. It’s the last game before the team starts the playoffs. Not even a 48-hour turnaround from having lost the last game of the season, to what could be the last game of the year if things don’t go as planned.
“I told the guys the thing we gotta do is we gotta learn from our mistakes that we made. We had way too many bad passes tonight,” Green said. “We just have to learn to play better together, and if we do that we can make some serious damage in the playoffs.”
Whether the team has been able to finish or not, the one thing they do is come out each night with the fire and energy to win. The guys are going to need all the energy they can to get their first playoff win in years, not just for themselves, but for their fans.
“I think we’re really looking forward to the game on Thursday for sure. We’re gonna come out and we’re gonna play really hard.”