The Hobart College basketball team earned a hard-fought 53-51 Liberty League victory over the Rochester Institute of Technology in Bristol Gym tonight. The win keeps the Statesmen tied for second place with Clarkson University in the league standings, half a game behind first place Skidmore College.
On a night when Hobart shot a season-low 25.8 percent from the floor, the Statesmen still found a way to win. Senior Andrew Hoy scored a game-high 16 points, including 14 in the first half. Sophomore Domonique Petty-Fernander added seven points and seven rebounds. Senior Trey Blanding also had seven points.
The Statesmen came into the game 15th in the nation in scoring defense (59.7 ppg), 19th in 3-point percentage defense (.297), and 37th in field goal percentage defense (.394). Hobart improved on each of those numbers tonight, limiting the Tigers to 30.8 percent shooting, including 25 percent from behind the arc.
Hoy threw the team on his back in the early going. He singlehandedly outscored the visitors 10-3 in the first four minutes. Sophomore Pete Drescher sank a 3-pointer at the 12:41 mark to give the home team its largest lead of the first half, 16-6. RIT twice narrowed its deficit to four in the final six minutes before the intermission, but each time Hobart responded with at least four straight points, taking a 27-19 lead into the break.
Early in the second half, Petty-Fernander made a pair of free throws to put the Statesmen up 32-20, the largest lead of the game for either side, but over the next eight minutes, the Tigers outscored the home team 17-5. Desmond Scott’s free throws at 10:57 tied the game at 37. From that point on, neither team led by more than two possessions.
Sheldon Clay made a pair from the stripe to give RIT its only lead of the game, 45-43, with 7:24 to go. Hobart countered with the game’s next seven points to reclaim the lead. Sophomore Zach Grattan sank a pair of freebies with 4:09 to go to put the Statesmen in front 50-45, but the Tigers refused to go down without a fight.
After senior Connor Rehbaum completed a traditional 3-point play at the 3:32 mark for a 53-47 lead, RIT recorded the next four points, including an old fashion 3-point play from A.J. Horde, to close the gap to just two, 53-51, with 1:46 remaining.
The Tigers missed two shots in the final minute that would have tied the game or given them the lead, the last a 3-pointer from the corner that went long and skipped out of bounds as the horn sounded.
Horde led RIT with 14 points and three assists. J.P. Reagan added nine points and seven boards. Kamron Davis guided the Tigers to a 46-37 advantage on the glass with a game-high 10 rebounds.
RIT (12-12, 7-8) will close out the regular season, hosting Union College at 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 20. The Tigers are tied for the fourth and final spot in the Liberty League Tournament with St. Lawrence.
Hobart (17-7, 12-3) wraps up the regular season at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 22, when the Statesmen travel to Union.