Defense lifts Oswego past Wells
Lakers pick up first NCAA Tournament win in school history
OSWEGO, N.Y. -- In a battle of NCAA Division III Men's Basketball tournament newcomers, Oswego State (24-4) used its defense to move into the second round after scoring 25 points off of turnovers in a 64-58 win against Wells (17-12) Friday night at Max Ziel Gymnasium. The host Lakers held a three-point lead with under a minute to play when forward Chris Gilkes drew a charge in the paint that forced the 1,000-plus crowd to its feet followed by a pair of free throws from SUNYAC Player of the Year Chad Burridge to make it a two-possession game. Oswego State will face Rhode Island College (20-7) in the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Second Round at 7 p.m. at Max Ziel Gymnasium.
With the game tied five minutes into the first half, Benito Perez capped off a 9-2 Express run with a three-pointer following a steal to put Wells ahead 17-10. Oswego State countered by scoring seven unanswered points behind a Brenden Nollet basket and five points from Burridge, who poured in a game-high 27 points, to even the score at 19 apiece. The Lakers went on to hold a 26-24 lead at halftime.
Back-to-back layups by Ryan Sheridan and a layup by Burridge gave Oswego State a 32-24 cushion two minutes into the second half, but Wells pulled to within three points after a trey by Dave Foltz. The margin remained three until a Gilkes jumper triggered a 9-0 run that saw the Lakers capitalize on three Express turnovers due to full-court pressure, as Oswego State took a 45-33 lead with 11:41 to play. However, Wells did not back down as it chipped away at the deficit until a Foltz layup brought the Express to within one point at 53-52 with three minutes remaining.
On the ensuing possession, the Lakers' Sean Michele drained a trey from the top of the key to make it a two-possession game. Mabior Mayen hit one of two free throws with 1:43 on the scoreboard to make the score 56-53. Oswego State was unable to convert on the offensive end despite coming away with two offensive boards in the next series when Gilkes drew the pivotal charge. The Lakers got the ball across the half-court line before Wells fouled, sending Burridge to the line to shoot 1-and-1. He made both free throws to put Oswego State ahead 58-53 with 26 seconds to play. The Express hit shots in the waning moments of the game, but the Lakers converted 6-of-6 free throws in the final 30 seconds to hang on for the victory.
Burridge finished the game with 27 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks, as no other Laker reached double-digits. Hayden Ward had a solid performance in the paint with eight points and nine boards, including seven on the offensive end. Wells was paced by freshman Mabior Mayen, who finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds, and five blocks. The Express received 11 points from Dave Foltz and Terry Harrision, while Benito Perez also contributed 10.
Oswego State owned a slim 40-38 advantage on the glass, but the Lakers came away with 22 offensive boards resulting in 20 second-chance points. Oswego State also went a perfect 12-for-12 from the charity stripe.