BOSTON – Needing a victory to keep its Great Northeast Athletic Conference postseason hopes alive, the Norwich University men's basketball team delivered an 83-78 road victory over Emmanuel (Mass.) College at the Andy Yasinoff Court.
The Cadets move to 8-16 overall on the year and to 5-12 against GNAC opponents. Emmanuel dips to 7-17 on the season and to 6-11 against league foes. The Cadets also snapped a six-game losing streak with the clutch victory.
With a 5-12 record against GNAC opponents, a victory on Saturday against Lasell would clinch the first postseason berth for the Cadets since the 2013-14 season. Anna Maria, the ninth place team in the GNAC to date, would bump the Cadets from the playoffs with a Norwich loss versus the Lasers and an AMCATS win against Rivier.
If both Anna Maria and Norwich sport equal records following Saturday's action, the AMCATS hold the tiebreaker over the Cadets, having defeated the higher-ranked opponent in the GNAC standings, fourth-place Mount Ida. The highest-ranked team that Norwich has defeated was Emmanuel this afternoon – the Saints sit in a tie for sixth place.
Norwich had four players reach double-digit point scoring totals, led by junior Ryan Fitzgerald (Winchester, Mass.) and his 17 points of offense in only 22 minutes of action. He poured home a career-record four three-point baskets as the Cadets finished the game by shooting 10-of-19 from beyond the arc, a .526 percentage. Classmate Zygimantas Sirvydas (Silale, Lithuania) helped the cause with 15 points and four assists, shooting 6-for-10 from the floor.
Junior Ryan Booth (Northfield, Vt.) picked up his first double-double of the season, scoring 12 points and hauling in 10 rebounds – he also made clutch free throws in the final minute of play for the Cadets, securing the victory. Junior Mike Hogervorst (Leiden, South Holland, Netherlands) narrowly missed the double-double, scoring 14 points and collecting eight rebounds.
The host Saints controlled play throughout the first half, opening up a nine-point lead with 10:30 to go in the stanza. Norwich ended up tying the score on three separate occasions, but did not take the lead until a Sirvydas jumper with zeroes on the scoreboard carried the Cadets to a 41-39 halftime lead.
Norwich had a strong offensive first half, shooting nearly 50% from the floor (16-for-33) and making five three-pointers, but Emmanuel outrebounded the Cadets by a 25-to-14 margin and made six triples of their own.
The Cadets turned the tables in the second half, creating a six-point lead following a three by junior Darius Bryant (Calhoun Falls, S.C.) with only 5:02 expired in the half. Fitzgerald scored the next Norwich point off of a free throw and later catapulted the Cadets out in front by 10 points, 58-48, following a three-point basket.
A game-high Norwich lead was created with four minutes to go following a Sirvydas fast-break layup, but Emmanuel made a late comeback attempt, down by a 73-62 margin. Ahead by six points with 2:10 left, the Cadets committed three-straight turnovers to allow the hosts to cut their deficit to 75-73 with 40 seconds left.
Ahead by three points, 81-78, with seven seconds left, Norwich turned the ball over once again. Will Jessup recorded the steal and missed a three-point basket with two seconds left. Booth hauled in the rebound and, after being fouled, put the game away with two free throws, making four-straight from the charity stripe to end the contest.
Emmett Riddick scored 21 points to lead the Saints while Matt Raine scored 14 points and added a team-best 12 rebounds. Emmanuel scored 19 second-chance points in the contest, but the Cadets controlled the paint after tallying 36 points underneath the basket.