Potsdam, NY - A pair of missed jumpers on the final possession by the Clarkson University Men's Basketball team allowed Rensselaer to escape the North Country with two overtime victories as the Golden Knights fell to the Engineers 82-79 in overtime Saturday afternoon at Alumni Gymnasium.
The Golden Knights fell to 15-7 overall and 7-6 in the Liberty League while Rensselaer improved its conference standing to 8-5 and 13-9 overall. A Clarkson victory over Skidmore on Tuesday would go a long way in keeping its playoff hopes alive.
Although the Knights turned the ball over only five times in the first half, the team looked out of sync in the early going as Rensselaer and trailed by as many as seven points midway through the half. Eventually, Clarkson started getting to the basket and creating opportunities on the inside, changing a seven-point deficit into a five-point advantage over the course of 11-plus minutes. Included in that stretch was a 17-6 run that had the Knights up by five points in the waning moments, with the margin eventually settling at four points in favor of Clarkson. Junior Marques Charlton (Deer Park, NY) had a solid first half with 14 points, including both of the Knights' 3-point field goals, while Brendan Farley of Rensselaer wasn't quite as efficient, but still tallied 12 points.
In the second half, RPI edged back to within two before Clarkson went on a 13-5 run to take a double-digt lead with 12 minutes remaining in the contest, but the Engineers encounted a hot streak and reclaimed the lead with a 15-3 run of their own in less than four minutes. From that point on, the teams jostled back and forth and the Engineers found themselves with a four-point lead and just over a minute to go (71-67). Needing multiple possessions, Clarkson employed a full-court press and saw the strategy pay dividends when Charlton made a steal and converted a lay up to pull the Knights back to within two. After a missed 3-pointer at the RPI end, Clarkson had one last possession to tie the game up and sophomore John Coleman (Potsdam, NY) buried a mid-range jumper from the free-throw line elbow with 5.3 seconds to go to knot the game up at 71-71. A desperation 3-pointer bounced off the backboard and rim to send the game to overtime.
Rensselaer would make two 3-pointers in the early going of overtime, including off the tip, to claim a six-point lead with only 97 seconds expired from the extra session, but Clarkson again chipped away and tied the game up at 79-79 after a steal by John Coleman was turned into a lay up in the final minute. Rensselaer's Jamie Zajac was fouled and hit the front end of two free throws to give Rensselaer the lead, but Clarkson was in a position to claim the game with one last shot. Charlton beat his man off the dribble for an open 20-footer but missed and after an offensive rebound Jerry Coleman (Potsdam, NY) was off on his 3-point attempt, allowing the Engineers to get the rebound and hit two more free throws to clinch the game.
Four players finished in double figures for Clarkson, led by Charlton who had 19 points, five assists, and three steals. Jerry Coleman added in 13 points and both John Coleman and Felix Abongo (Beacon, NY) had 12 points and seven rebounds. For RPI, Zajac finished with a game-high 25 points, making five 3-point field goals, and Brendan Farley contributed 15 points. Daniel Martin also had nine points, seven boards, and three blocks.