There was no shortage of Tiger fans in attendance on December 2, when parents and students alike were treated to a pulse-raising basketball double feature between RIT and the University of Rochester. The lady Tigers were the first to square off against the formidable Yellow jackets at 6 p.m., followed by the men at 8 p.m. Speakers bumped throughout the night while the RIT cheerleaders boosted morale from the sidelines. RIT’s unofficial makeshift mascot dubbed “Orange Man” even made an appearance to mock the refs and perform all sorts of shenanigans, much to the delight of those in the stands. All of this made for one spectacular night to be a Rochester sport fan.
RIT came out fighting, leaving no doubt in any spectator’s mind that both of these teams came to play. Though their records weren’t necessarily similar, it soon became clear that the Lady Tigers’ strong suit was their shooting, sinking 50 percent of their first half field goals. Although their free-throw performance wasn’t too promising in the beginning, they slowly compensated over the course of the game, ending their free throw total with a respectable 10/13 while the Yellowjackets were only 11/23 from the line.
The Tigers’ teamwork and grasp on fundamentals were their best assets, constantly hammering away at U of R’s solid-yet-vulnerable defense. Any seasoned basketball player will tell you that the key to coming out on top is pulling down offensive rebounds, but this was just a battle that RIT couldn’t quite win against U of R’s large and intimidating defense.
The final minutes of the game were quite possibly the most exciting of the night. RIT, behind by 10 points (64-54), gained a bout of momentum when they needed it most and scored an astonishing 14 points within the next five minutes, pulling ahead as time drained from the clock. RIT tried desperately to maintain this lead up until the last minute of the game, but unfortunately, a Yellowjacket grabbed an offensive rebound and sank a three-pointer.
The sound of nervous teeth grinding and nail-biting penetrated the crowd as U of R stepped to the line and extended their lead. The Yellowjackets missed their second free-throw, and with the crowd’s fingers crossed, RIT rebounding woes continued. The game wasn’t yet out of their grasp, but nerves were clearly a problem when what could’ve been a game winning shot fell short, leaving the RIT fans in the crowd with a bad taste in their mouth. A final score of 70-68 gives RIT a 3-2 record.
When it comes to showmanship, RIT Men’s Basketball team never fails to disappoint. Not only does their energy warming up synchronize almost perfectly with the hip hop blasted over the speakers, but one can always expect these athletes to deliver well-played, entertaining basketball.
Right from the tip off, the Tigers had incredible rebounds and placed constant pressure on the unsuspecting U of R offense. It was almost unfair how huge RIT looked when they were pulling down nearly every rebound off of either hoop. On offense, RIT was, in a word, efficient, sinking their early long range shots.
U of R eventually found their footing and battled back. At this time, RIT began to get a little sloppy with their fouls, accumulating several within a very short amount of time and prompting Coach Bob McVean to make a few last minute roster adjustments. Thanks to a deftly efficient Tiger offense, Rochester was forced into desperate heel-nipping to stay in the game. With five minutes left on the clock for the first half, U of R picked up the pace, scoring 10 points while managing to keep RIT at a lowly two. The half wound to a close with a score of 33-24 in favor of Tigers.
RIT, not content to see their lead slowly erased, fought back against the anxious Rochester Yellowjackets, opening up with a swift and furious 14 point lead including a few sweet jumpers from at least a few steps outside the three. This streak came to a close with 15 minutes left in the game and 45-31 on the scoreboard.
The crowd would’ve thought they were having déjà vu because Rochester powered through for another short streak when they outscored RIT with another 14-point run. Anxious not to be outdone, RIT once again picked it up to cut the Yellowjacket’s momentum short with an impressive three-pointer, leaving the score 61-55.
With less than a minute left to play, U of R dropped a lucky few field goals to keep the Tigers on their toes. In a stunning play, third year Anthony Terry went up for a layup, trying to sentence U of R to their first season loss. Gasps were heard from the crowd as the layup barely missed the hoop and fell into Yellowjacket possession. U of R charged down the court only to have the ball stolen again by third year Nate Korinchak. Unfortunately, a promising fast break was cut short by a blatant and violent Yellowjacket foul.
Korinchak sank both free-throws in a professional manner and sealed Rochester’s first season loss with a final score of 63-58. This win gives Men’s Basketball a record of 2-2.