No. 17 Yellowjackets handle Naz for latest win

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PITTSFORD, NY – The University of Rochester men’s basketball team remained unbeaten, holding off a second half rally by Nazareth College, winning 75-66 on Saturday afternoon at Bobby Wanzer Court at St. John Fisher in the Mark’s Pizzeria Crosstown Shootout.

Rochester (9-0), ranked #17 in the latest Division III poll, finished the tournament with wins over St. John Fisher (Thursday) and Nazareth, ending 2-0 in the round-robin event.  Nazareth drops to 4-2 with the loss.

The Yellowjackets were a perfect 8-for-8 over the final minute from the free throw line, sealing the victory.  Senior co-captain Jacob Wittig made four big free throws, all on 1-and-1 chances to pull extend a 3-point lead to seven with just 18 seconds remaining on the clock.  Patrick Benka and Michael Mangan then each made two in the final ten seconds.

Wittig finished with a team-high 15 points and swiped four of UR’s 12 steals.  Sophomore Ryan Algier (Fairport) scored a career-high 13 points and had six rebounds in some key minutes off the bench.  In addition, Andrew Lundstrom scored 11 points while Mangan finished with 10 points, 6 rebounds and 4 steals.

UR was able to build a seven point first-half lead thanks in part to an extended 17-4 run to close the period.  Wittig had six points in the run, while Algier had four and Rochester went from trailing 24-18 to up 35-28 at intermission.

In the second half, Lundstrom scored the first five points for the Yellowjackets as UR quickly build a double-digit lead.  That started an 11-1 run over the opening five minutes in which the Golden Flyers were held without a field goal.

Nazareth’s Stephen Gabel (Fairport) then scored seven of his teams 11 points in an 11-4 spurt to pull within 11, trailing 56-45 with 8:27 left in the contest.  A number of Yellowjacket fouls got the Golden Flyers in the double-bonus early, with four of the points in the run coming from the charity stripe.

Jumpers from Patrick Benka and Mangan built UR’s lead back up to 15, but Nazareth kept clawing away, eventually trimming the lead to just three following a 14-2 burst.  Tyler Stenglein (Irondequoit) scored 10 of his 16 points in the run for Nazareth as UR went cold, shooting just 1-7 from the floor.

After pulling within three, Wittig hit a clutch 3-pointer from the wing, only to see it answered at the other end with a long-range make from Gabel making the score 67-64 with 92 seconds remaining.

A steal by Jake Burgio (Brockport) gave the Golden Flyers a chance to potentially tie the game, but Stenglien missed a jumper with Mangan pulling down the rebound.  He dished off to Wittig who was fouled and sank the first two of his big free throws.

Nazareth ended up being led by Gabel who scored a game-high 18 points.  Stenglein had 16 while Jake Burgio added seven points and nine rebounds.

UR shot 49% from the floor compared to Nazareth’s 36%, but the Golden Flyers sank nine 3-pointers to just four from the winning Yellowjackets.

Rochester next will play at Ithaca College on Tuesday evening at 8 pm, ending the first semester of competition.  After the calendar turns to 2019, UR returns to action on January 2nd with the final non-conference game of the season at Catholic University.

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