Most people deride UR as “not a sports school.” Friday night’s basketball game proved some students bleed blue and yellow.

The men’s contest was a back-and-forth battle decided in the last seconds.

#10 NYU (16-3, 6-2 UAA) opened scoring when junior guard Zay Freeney (#23) converted a right-handed layup after a hard drive to the basket.

From there on out, NYU and UR (9-10, 3-5 UAA) traded metaphorical — and sometimes physical — blows in a contest befitting a “Rocky” movie.

Graduate student guard Mitchell Kershner (#21) delivered a bounce pass to a cutting senior guard, Matt Wiele (#13), for UR’s first points. Wiele was fouled during his shot and made the free throw.

NYU senior center Emmanuel Onuama (#32) threw down a powerful dunk in transition with 10 minutes left in the first half. NYU led 16-13.

NYU graduate student guard Spencer Freedman (#13), alumnus of basketball powerhouse Mater Dei High School, poured in several consecutive baskets and dished out one behind-the-back assist during the final minutes of the first half. A minute later, UR junior guard Ethan McEachern (#3) drained a three, forcing an NYU timeout.  

Following each UR basket, a small but notable crowd in the UR students’ section erupted volcanically in support of their Yellowjackets. 

The second half began with the same intensity as the first, the score 41-35 in favor of NYU. Both teams battled to secure rebounds. In one instance, McEachern bounced the ball off of an opposing player, much to the delight of the Yellowjackets’ fans. 

The game was physical, and both teams seldom missed free throws down the stretch. 

Behind three, an offensive rebound by Kershner led to a three-point bucket and a tie game with three minutes left.

With a minute and a half to go, NYU’s Freedman, the game’s leading scorer, delivered on a long 3-pointer. UR took a timeout in response. 76-74 NYU.

UR turned the ball over down 2 points with 40 seconds left after instant replay determined the ball last touched a Yellowjacket, reversing the initial call on the court.

In the end, Freedman iced the game with two free throws after UR was forced to foul. 

Despite the loss, Yellowjackets head coach Luke Flockerzi remains hopeful, pointing to the team’s constant improvement during the season. After a contest against Brandeis on Feb. 4, the Yellowjackets will try to demonstrate that growth Friday versus the University of Chicago at 7:30 p.m. in the Palestra.

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