The UR men’s hoops team is going to the big dance. After defeating Carnegie Mellon (12-12, 5-9) in the Louis Alexandra Palestra on Saturday, they were rewarded with an at-large bid into the NCAA Division III playoffs. They were in after receiving one of 18 Pool C bids on Sunday evening.
UR will face SUNY Plattsburgh in the first round at St. John Fisher College on Friday, March 2 at 6 p.m. Plattsburgh received an automatic berth into Pool A after defeating the regular season SUNY Athletic Conference champion Brockport in the SUNYAC title game on Saturday. Plattsburgh finished the regular season with a mark of 20-8.
This is the fifth time in the last six years that the Yellowjackets will play in the national tournament. UR went to the NCAA playoffs four years in a row (2002-2005) including two trips to the Final Four (2002, 2005) and one to the National Championship game (2005).
In the regular season, the ‘Jackets finished with an overall record of 18-7. They ended up tied with Brandeis University for third place in the University Athletic Association standings, holding a conference record of 9-5.
This turned out to be a very successful season for the UAA as four teams from the conference received bids into the tournament. This is the first time since 1997 that the UAA has sent four teams to the dance.
The UAA is the most represented conference in the tournament this year; Washington University (20-4, 11-3) won the conference title, giving them an automatic berth into Pool A.
Along with the Yellowjackets, Chicago (20-5, 11-3) and Brandeis (19-6, 9-5) received Pool C invitations. Other Rochester opponents that received Pool A bids include Lake Erie College (25-2), which won the Allegheny Mountain College Conference and St. John Fisher College (22-5), which took home the Empire 8 tournament title.
Lake Erie defeated the ‘Jackets, 73-62, for the Chuck Resler tournament title on Nov. 18 in the Palestra. UR split with the Cardinals of St. John Fisher this season.
In their first meeting, UR lost 69-67 in an overtime game at Fisher on Dec. 7. UR demolished them in the second match-up, 82-53. This was in the Chase Tournament semi-finals, hosted by Roberts Wesleyan College, en route to taking home the Chase Tourney title.
In their final game of the regular season, UR defeated Carnegie Mellon 72-60, at the Palestra. Senior co-captains Tim Brackney and Eric Snider were honored before their senior game for all of the hard work and commitment that they have put into the program over the last four years.
Both seniors left their mark as Brackney scored a team high 17 points, while Snider grabbed six rebounds, including critical boards on key possessions down the stretch. In 32 minutes of action, Brackney was 6 of 10 from the floor and nailed four of seven three-point attempts. Sophomore Mike Chmielowiec scored 16 points for UR. He hit six of nine buckets from the field and three of five from beyond the arc. Jon Onyiriuka finished with 13 while Uche Ndubizu had 11 points and six rebounds.
For the Tartans, Brad Matta scored a game high 22 points. Ryan Einwage contributed 13 points and seven rebounds for CMU.
Carnegie Mellon started strong as they took a 13-3 in the first 4:33 of the game due in part to Geoff Kozak’s five points and Matta’s four. With 8:21 left in the half, a Corey O’Rourke jumper put CMU up 23-15.
Then the Yellowjackets turned it up a notch, going on a 17-2 run over the next five minutes to take a 32-25 lead with 3:20 to play in the first half.
Brackney led the offensive charge with five points and UR hit eight free throws during the stretch. Rochester took a 38-33 lead into the locker room at the break.
In the second half, Carnegie could not get anything going as they shot 30.4 percent from the floor (seven of 23). Rochester on the other hand, hit 50 percent of their shots from the field (11 of 22) in the second half to close out the game.
If the ‘Jackets defeat Plattsburgh and Fisher takes down Wentworth Institute (17-11), then that would set up a rubber match for the two cross-town rivals. The winners of the Friday’s doubleheader play on Saturday in the second round of the tournament at Fisher.
The winner of the round two game would advance to the Sweet 16 against the winner of the St. Lawrence regional bracket. Sites for the Sweet 16 will not be determined until Sunday.
Senior co-captains Tim Brackney and Eric Snider will certainly be missed not only by the basketball program, but also by the whole UR community as well. Both are involved with multiple on-campus activities outside of basketball and truly are “student” athletes.
These are two guys who leave their hearts on the floor every time they play. They are model students, passionate leaders and tremendous individuals. Both have left their mark on the Palestra floor and are a part of the tradition that is UR basketball.
Kahovec is a member of the class of 2008.
To view more photos of the Mens game vs. Carnegie Mellon, click here.