Knights' hope for late game heroics fall short at Bard
Sunday, January 7, 2018 - 8:28 am

Annandale-on-Hudson, NY – A last second tip attempt was broken up on what could have been a game-tying layup as the Clarkson University Men's Basketball team came up empty on the road this weekend, dropping a 61-59 decision to Bard College on Saturday afternoon.

The Golden Knights fell to 4-7 overall and 0-4 in Liberty League games while the Raptors moved to 4-7 and 2-2 in conference contests. Clarkson looks to pick up its first league win when it starts a seven-game run of home games against St. Lawrence on Tuesday.

The final minute of Saturday's contest took much longer than the normal 60 seconds as Bard was able to hold off the Knights with just enough free throws. Clarkson trailed by five with 12 seconds to go (59-54) but Matt Higgins hit a 3-pointer with five seconds remaining to cut the deficit to just two. After a quick foul, Bard made just one of its free throw chances at the other end. When the Knights sprinted up the court the other way, the Raptors wisely fouled to put Malaquias Canery on the line rather than see him take a long 3-pointer. Canery made both, and the Knights were again forced to foul, with the Raptors making one of two free throws. With just a little over a second to go, Clarkson heaved the ball down court, made a quick catch and called timeout to set up a more manageable shot attempt. Just five-tenths of a second remained, and Liam Ellis's pass from the scorers' table to the rim was tipped away to allow the Raptors to gain the win.

The opening minutes of the contest did not make it appear as if the game would be a nail-biter. Clarkson opened with a basket on its first possession, but missed its next seven shots and found itself trailing in the early going. Although the offense did pick up the pace after the first five minutes, the Knights still trailed by one at the midway point of the half, 15-14. That small deficit quickly grew to double figures as Bard made four straight 3-pointers to stretch its advantage to 29-14 by the 7:21 mark, and although Clarkson was able to chip away, a Matt Higgins dunk in the final minute drew the Knights back to just eight at the break.

Bard made seven of its first 10 3-pointers in the first half, but missed its next six to end the half. Clarkson made only two of its 13 3-point field goal attempts in the first 20 minutes and shot only 9-for-31 overall, with Higgins going 5-for-10 and the rest of the team struggling at a rate of 4-for-21.

The Raptors continued to hold the advantage at the start of the second half, but Clarkson quietly snuck back into the game, pulling to within a single possession of tying the contest on multiple occasions, including a two-point margin after Malaquias Canery scored his first basket of the game at the 10:32 mark of the second half. Bard had answers on its next few possessions to keep Clarkson at bay, but the Knights finally tied the game up when Matthew Hornak buried a 3-pointer at the 6:46 mark. The Raptors responded with two baskets from Emmanuel Oyakhilome in the next few minutes to regain their advantage. Gary Hanley scored a basket to get the Knights to within two again and less than a minute later Matt Higgins buried another jumper to once again place Clarkson within a single point (52-51).

With the Raptors up by one, Alijah Rue picked up a steal and on the ensuing fast break was fouled, allowing Bard to push its lead back up to two thanks to the free throw. However, Clarkson missed four shots on its next possession despite several quality looks. The break finally came through in the last minute when two Bard defenders tripped over one another on a screen, giving Liam Ellis a wide open look from beyond the arc, which the junior guard buried with just 49 seconds to play. Clarkson's lead (54-53) would be short lived, though, as Justyn Rogers converted two free throws only eight seconds later to return the advantage to the Raptors. On Clarkson's next possession, Higgins saw his 3-point attempt rattle in and out, and the Knights were forced to foul, allowing Rogers to make two more freebies to extend Bard's lead back to three. Rogers made two more free throws a few seconds later to put the lead at five and those two shots, along with the final two free throws made by the Raptors, proved to be the difference.

Higgins scored a career-high 29 points on 10-for-22 shooting to lead the Knights, but no other Clarkson player finished in double figures. Four of Bard's five starters finished in double figures, led by Justyn Rogers' 15 points.