The Mighty Oaks men's basketball team fell to the College of New Rochelle (CNR), 93-88, in an exciting matchup that marked the final home game for three ESF seniors.
Seniors Ryan Caldwell, Dan Treadwell and Jared Bard were honored before the start of the game. Caldwell also received the game ball for becoming the the first player in program history to score 1,000 points in his career.
The game was sloppy at the start for ESF as a combination of bad shots and turnovers put the Might Oaks in an early hole, 17-7, with 13 minutes remaining in the half. A comeback spurred by Caldwell and Treadwell got ESF to within three, 25-22, with eight minutes remaining. Caldwell, a four-time Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic conference player of the week, took over and helped ESF back into the game. The end of the first half was highlighted by an acrobatic block by Caldwell to keep ESF within one, 49-48, at halftime. Caldwell led all scorers at the half with 17 points.
The second half started with a three-pointer by Bard and a basket by sophomore Justin VanDuLuitgaarden to give ESF a 53-49 lead. Additional three-pointers by Bard and strong play by sophomore Cole Hartman helped ESF build an 8-point lead, 61-53, with 15 minutes remaining. The Blue Angels wouldn't go away, however, and foul trouble plagued several Mighty Oak as they clung on to a 69-63 lead with 10 minutes remaining. A basket by CNR junior Jack Tisdale tied up the game, 72-72, with seven minutes remaining and sparked a 9-0 run by the Blue Angels to pull ahead 79-74. ESF tied it up , 84-84, with one minute remaining but an untimely turnover by ESF and a timely three-pointer by CNR freshman Hunter Schenkel sealed the win for the Blue Angels, 93-88.
Caldwell finished the game with 22 points, 14 rebounds and six assists. Hartman added a career-high 12 points and seven rebounds. Treadwell scored 19 points including a perfect 12-12 from the free-throw line. Schenkel scored 24 for CNR and freshman Matt Dean had 17 points and 14 rebounds. The Blue Angels out-rebounded ESF 60-44 but the Mighty Oaks caused 22 CNR turnovers.
Earlier in the week, ESF escaped with a 78-77 win over HVIAC rival Davis College, thanks to a game-winning basket by Bard with 3.5 seconds remaining. Caldwell once again led ESF in scoring with 27 points and nine rebounds. VanDuLuitgaarden chipped in 13 points, a career high.
The Mighty Oaks finish the regular season with a 11-10 record - the first winning record in program history. The team finished 5-3 in HVIAC conference play and once again qualified for the HVIAC conference tournament. The Mighty Oaks have the monumental task of trying to upset two-time USCAA defending national champion Berkeley College in the first round of the HVIAC conference tournament. The game will be played at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18, at the College of New Rochelle.
"I want to thank our fans for their support throughout the year. This team has been committed since day one to getting ourselves back to the tournament and we look forward to the challenge next weekend brings. I also want to thank our seniors, Jared, Ryan and Dan for all their hard work and leadership this season. It's been a real pleasure to be their coach during their time here. Their legacy will live on for seasons to come," said Head Coach Scott Blair.