Brockport headed to sixth-ever Sweet 16 with close win

Courtesy of goBrockport.com

Brockport, NY – The SUNY Brockport men’s basketball team defeated Middlebury, 84-81, in the Round of 32 and advances to the NCAA Division III Championships Sweet 16.

The Golden Eagles are heading to the Sweet 16 for just the sixth time in program history. They are now 26-3 on the year, tying the program mark for the second most wins ever in a single season. Playing 29 games so far ties for the fourth most ever in a single season.

Brockport has won 19 games in a row now, dating back to January 11th, which ties the program’s all-time record for consecutive wins set back in the early 1970s. Getting another win in the Jim & John Vlogianitis Gymnasium, the team is still undefeated at 15-0 on the home court.

Justin Summers led the way with a team-high 22 points in the Round of 32 matchup. Tyler Collins neared a triple-double with 15 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists. Collins went 9-for-10 at the charity stripe in the win.

Devante Hagins (Leadership Academy) posted 15 points and eight boards, shooting 6-for-8 from the floor and 1-for-1 from downtown. Monte Stroman came up big for Brockport again on the big stage, finishing with 14 points and nine rebounds.

Jahidi Wallace scored 12 points and played a key role in getting Middlebury players in foul trouble. Antonio Alvarez (Brockport) snagged seven rebounds and blocked two shots defensively. Tyree Grimsley notched six points and four rebounds, on his way to a game-best plus/minus rating of +16 in just under 23 minutes of playing time.

The Middlebury College Panthers took an early lead, going up 9-6 in the opening minutes of play. A perfect 3-for-3 trip at the foul line by Tyler Collins, and a thunderous tip-slam by Monte Stroman highlighted a nice Brockport run. The Green and Gold took a 17-10 lead with 13:06 on the clock in the first half.

The home team got the lead to double-digits, but the visiting Panthers would have a run of their own. Middlebury’s Jack Farrell scored 14 points in the first half, helping the team tie the score at 32-32 with less than five minutes until halftime. Brockport entered the locker room with a two-point lead thanks to a tough jumper in the post from Justin Summers in the final 20 seconds.

Summers has 12 of his team-high 22 points in the first half, making 5-of-6 at the charity stripe. Jahidi Wallace shot 4-for-5 from the floor in the opening period, putting up 10 points before the mid-game break.

Middlebury’s Griffin Kornaker led all scorers with 15 points at halftime, going a perfect 3-for-3 from long range. Teammate Jack Farrell was 5-for-8 from the field to finish the half with 14 points.

The game stayed tied for the entire second half in this battle for a Sweet 16 birth. The teams traded free throws and three-pointers in the first few minutes, as the score was tied at 50-50 at the 15-minute mark. Brockport started to gain a slight edge on the scoreboard, but Middlebury’s senior forward found a rhythm. After scoring zero points and two boards, due to foul trouble in the first half, Matt Folger recorded 16 points and seven rebounds in the second half.

Folger’s second half impact and Kornaker’s big shot making from beyond the arc cut a nine-point Brockport lead down to one with less than four minutes in regulation. A one-possession game for the rest of the way, it all came down to free throws in crunch-time. Collins and Stroman did their part to give the Golden Eagles an 83-81 lead with 8 seconds remaining.

Middlebury’s last possession found Ryan Cahill open for the potential game-winning corner 3-pointer, but the shot rimmed out. Stroman grabbed the rebound and made one more free throw with one second left on the clock, as Brockport took the three-point victory.

The Green and Gold escaped the contest with a hard-fought win and earned its first trip to the Sweet 16 since 2007. Middlebury’s season ends with a record of 21-6 overall after the loss in the Round of 32.

Brockport, second in the country in free throw attempts, continued to earn shots at the charity stripe like it has all season long. Shooting only seven 3-pointers all game, the Golden Eagles went 26-for-38 at the free throw line, compared to just 19 attempted foul shots by Middlebury. They also outrebound the Panthers, 44-30, scoring 16 second chance points off of 13 offensive boards. Brockport also demonstrated its depth yet again, gaining 42 points contributed from players coming in off the bench.

Griffin Kornaker scored a game-high 28 points for Middlebury, going 5-for-9 from beyond the arc. The Middlebury starting five accounted for 79 of the team’s 81 points in the contest. Folger, Farrell, and Eastman all put up at least 12 points in the loss.

The Golden Eagles are back in action next weekend for its Sweet 16 matchup against the Tufts University Jumbos. #20 Tufts advanced through the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament with wins over Western Connecticut State (74-72) and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (75-66).

The game will be played on Friday, March 13th, with the hosting site and tip-off time yet to be officially determined.

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