The Men’s basketball team’s hope for a playoff berth came to an end this past Friday, Feb. 20 with a tough loss against Buffalo State by a score of 73-72.
The loss eliminated the Hawks from a chance to play in the SUNYAC Tournament.
Hawks fourth-year co-Captain Taylor Sowah and third-year co-Captain Kevin Roach led the team with 20 points each. Fourth-year co-Captain R.J. Rosa was just behind them with 16 points.
The two teams were neck and neck throughout the whole game. Each team had 40 points after the first half. The Hawks were up by one with 25 seconds left in the game. Buffalo State fourth-year guard Roderick Epps scored a jumper with seven seconds left on the clock to put the Bengals up for good.
“[The Hawks] fought, they didn’t quit,” Head Coach Mike Rejniak said. “It was a heartbreaker on Friday night. We showed up ready to play and I thought both teams deserved to win.”
The Hawks concluded their season on Saturday, Feb. 21, with a 70-57 victory over SUNY Fredonia. The win put the team’s final record at 11-14, 9-9 in conference play. Compared to last season, the Hawks won five more games. The last playoff appearance for the Hawks was in the 2012-13 season.
Sowah led the team with 19 points and 10 rebounds, recording his eleventh double-double of the season. Rosa was second on the team with 12 points. Fourth-year guard/forward Jarrelle Dixon and second-year forward Andrew Seniuk also scored double-digit points, as Dixon netted 10 and Seniuk scored 11.
“On Saturday, we just went out there and had fun and just kind of executed the game plan,” Rejniak said. “Everybody from the team got significant minutes, so it was a nice way to end the year. We didn’t end up where we wanted to end up, but at the same time I thought it served as a nice springboard for next season.”
Despite missing out on the SUNYAC Tournament for the second straight year, the Hawks improved from their 6-19 record last season. Rejniak credits the team’s defense for the improved record.
“The defense got better this year, largely because we switched systems,” he said. “The overall experience of my team has gotten better. My first recruiting class are juniors, so they’re a little bit more seasoned and in the league. In the SUNYAC, the best teams are the senior-laden teams. So that growth has been nice.”
During the game against Fredonia, Sowah became the 19th Hawks Men’s basketball student-athlete to score 1,000 points in his collegiate career. He entered the game needing only one point to reach 1,000. Sowah ends his collegiate career with 1,018 total points.
Along with Sowah, Rosa and Dixon will not return to the team next season due to graduation. While Rejniak is sad to see his seniors go, he is looking forward to seeing much of his roster return next season.
“The standards will be set pretty high,” he said. “Except for three, everybody will be returning with a lot of new pieces coming into the fold. I think this team has the opportunity and capability to be one of the top teams in the SUNYAC. I thought this year we showed flashes of that. So the expectations are high.”