ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The Morrisville State College men's basketball team battled back-and-forth through 23 lead changes with host Nazareth College in the championship round of the Golden Flyers Tip-Off Tournament, but fell short as they dropped the 84-80 decision Sunday afternoon in Rochester.
The loss is the first for the Mustangs on the year, as they drop to 2-1 entering a final non-conference game before beginning North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) play. Morrisville State will host SUNY Geneseo Tuesday before opening NEAC action against Keuka College on the 30th.
Junior guard Trent Ward (Auburn, N.Y.) led Morrisville State's efforts with 26 points on the day, adding two assists and two steals, while teammate Kevin Dennis (Bronx, N.Y.) added 20 points, while snagging seven off the glass.
Kenny Bonaparte (Soundview, N.Y.) posted double figures for a second time in as many days, netting 15, while assisting three.
Derek Beames (Otego, N.Y.) posted a game high 15 rebounds to lead all on the boards, while adding six points and dishing out three assists.
Equally matched throughout the opening half, neither team was able to pull more than five points ahead of the other in the first 20, and entered the halftime break knotted at 33.
The second half played out much like the first, both teams playing neck and neck until the 11:35 mark when Nazareth put together a 7-0 run in two minutes for their largest lead of the game, a 59-52 advantage over the Mustangs.
Morrisville State though, quickly erased the deficit with their own 8-0 run, as Bonaparte nailed two from the free throw line and Beames followed with back-to-back tre's to give the Mustangs the one point advantage with eight minutes showing on the clock.
For the ensuing five minutes, both teams battled to within one of each other, but it was two straight scoring possessions that gave Nazareth the four point lead that was increased to seven on a Josh Gillard long ball with three minutes to go.
With three minutes to go in the second, Dennis collected an offensive rebound and had the put back to bring the Mustangs within five, adding another at the 1:31 mark to make it a three-point ball game, but Nazareth added a bucket of their own to regain the five point lead with 34 seconds remaining.
Dennis hit two straight free throws with 15 ticks left, but Nazareth's Brendan Wind matched that three seconds later for the 82-77 advantage.
Bonaparte nailed his third three of the game with two seconds to go, but the Golden Flyers Jake Burgio sealed the win for the hosts with a pair of free throws to collect the 84-80 tourney win.
Burgio finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds for the double-double for Nazareth, while teammate Tyler Stenglein led the way with 27 points to earn tourney MVP honors.
Morrisville State shot 41.9 percent from the floor across the contest, edged by the hosts who hit 32-of-65 shots on the day (49.2%). Nazareth also held the 42-35 advantage on the boards.
The Mustangs, though, outgained the Golden Flyers from long range, draining 12-of-26 attempts while limiting the hosts to just four across 40 minutes of action.
Morrisville State hosts Geneseo at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the John W. Stewart Center for Student Activities Gymnasium on the Morrisville campus.
Morrisville State College's curricula are enriched with applied learning and pave the way for opportunity at both the Morrisville and Norwich campuses. An action-oriented, interactive learning lab, the college is a national leader in technology and has been lauded for its exemplary, innovative and effective community service programs.
The college was ranked among the Best Regional Colleges in the North by U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges 2016 issue and was also recognized in the Top Public Schools, Regional Colleges North in the 2016 Best Colleges rankings. For more information about Morrisville State College, visit www.morrisville.edu.