Saxons topple No. 16 St. John Fisher

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Alfred photo by Leo A. Nelson

Alfred University men's basketball team (16-7, 9-5) snapped No. 16 St. John Fisher's 18-game win streak, and handed the Cardinals their first Empire 8 loss of the 2014-15 campaign, 60-59, in the Terry S. Galanis Family Arena Tuesday evening.

The Saxons capitalized on points off turnovers in the second half to outlast the Cardinals in a down-to-the-wire E8 rivalry matchup, scoring 15 to Fisher's zero.  The game was decided by a free throw by senior Dalton Walsh with a mere three seconds left on the clock. 
The game began much like it ended, with both teams grinding out tough points. There was an equivalent retaliation mentality where one team would score and the other would answer with a play of their own. Sophomore Tyler Seelman was the catalyst for the Saxons in the first half, making three deep-ball shots in the first eight minutes.  He would finish the half with nine points.
With only 2:50 left in the first period, junior Jerry Kincel dropped a three to give the Saxons a five-point lead, their largest of the half. However, the Cardinals swooped back to grab the advantage, 29-26, with only four seconds left off an Optimystik Kinard 3-point shot. St. John Fisher closed the half with the three-point margin.
Fisher drew blood first in the second half on a Keegan Ryan layup, which he soon followed up with a free throw on the next play to put the Cardinals up 32-27.  The next minute and thirty-four seconds, the Saxons went on a rampage and rattled off an 8-0 run to grasp a lead 36-32 with 16:33 to go in the game. AU would extend this lead further to take its largest lead of the night, 44-36, when senior guard Ryan Mahon drove hard into the paint and nailed the "and-one" play.
Only 7:31 later, Fisher tied the game at 46 on an old-fashioned three-point play by the Cardinals' Chaz Lott. However, AU's senior ball handler Tim Pacheco answered with a drive the hoop to grab the lead yet again for the Saxons. AU would not relinquish its lead until the final minute.
With :23 left on the clock, Lott tied the game on the back of a 6-0 run against the Saxons. With the game tied at 59, head coach Russ Phillips called a timeout with 18 seconds left to set up a play to seize the lead. AU let the clock run down to approximately ten before beginning the play and looked for the open man. Finally the ball was kicked inside to Walsh who jostled for position in the paint and was fouled with only three seconds left. Walsh would go 1-for-2 at the charity stripe to give AU the 60-59 advantage. 
With plenty of time on the clock, Fisher called a timeout to put together a winning play, but it was to no avail.  The final heave was no good and the Alfred University student section poured onto the court.
Walsh ended the night with a game-high 18 points, 12 rebounds, and six blocks. The six blocks mark Walsh's career-high in what could be his last game in the Terry S. Galanis Family Arena. Seelman added six points to his total in the second half, tallying 15 points on the night—all coming by way of the long ball. Kincel amassed nine points, while playing impenetrable defense on the other end of the court. Junior Julian Reinhart added eight points to the Saxons' effort, and dished out four assists.
With the win the Saxons jump to second place in the Empire 8 past Hartwick.  AU will look to continue its six-game win streak on the road against Utica Friday evening. The Saxons will look to avenge the 81-75 loss at home against the Pioneers.