Big Green Scream Recap: Women Inch Closer to Regular Season Title
A festive atmosphere at last Saturday’s Big Green Scream resulted in a significant win for the women’s basketball team, who beat Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) 70-64 in overtime to move into a tie for first place in the Liberty League. The men’s team, however, could not overcome a strong RIT side in the second game of the doubleheader, falling 69-61.
It was fitting that Skidmore’s four seniors -- Kelly Donnelly, Veronica Moceri, Caite Opfer, and Ari Fustini -- led the charge on Senior Day, as the four combined for 57 points in the Thoroughbreds’ hard-fought victory that moved them into a tie with RIT and Ithaca for first place in the league.
Their experience was particularly crucial in the overtime. Clutch three-pointers from Fustini (8 points) and Moceri (24 points) set the pace offensively, while big defensive stands and effective rebounding on the other end of the floor successfully kept RIT at bay. The Thoroughbreds’ composure was also evident throughout. Skidmore preserved its lead by sinking eleven free throws in OT, with Moceri tallying eight of those makes to contribute to her team-leading 11 points in the frame.
“The key in the overtime was sticking together and having confidence,” said Moceri. “It was a team effort and we needed every person, 1-12, to believe that we were good enough and talented enough to win the game.”
Following the women’s victory, the men took the floor against a similarly formidable RIT side. A solid opening ten minutes from the Thoroughbreds was not enough to stave off the Tigers, though, as RIT went on a 9-0 run to break a 15-15 tie midway through the first half and went into the locker room with an 11-point lead. Despite strong efforts from junior Edvinas Rupkus (26 points, 7 rebounds) and freshman Noah Meren (17 points, 9 rebounds), Skidmore was not able to mount a comeback in the second half.
But as it was for the four seniors on the women’s team, Saturday’s Big Green Scream was special for the four men -- Martin Bedulskij, Marcus Jackson, Benny Louchheim, and Jack Morrow -- playing in their final regular season game at the Williamson Sports Center. Said Louchheim on the experience: “At the end of the day, even though we lost, it was an absolutely unforgettable night. The crowd’s energy was amazing and seeing my parents in the stands being all the way from Arizona was a really special moment for me.”
Moceri echoed similar sentiments, particularly given the stakes of her team’s contest: “The Big Green Scream is always a big game because we want to do well for all of the people that come out and support our team, but this game in particular was huge because there was more on the line with us playing the number one seed and ultimately fighting for first place.”
The men and women will look to finish their respective regular seasons strong this weekend during a two-game road trip to the Canadian border, where they’ll play Clarkson on Saturday and St. Lawrence on Sunday. The stakes will certainly be high, as two victories should ensure a ninth consecutive playoff appearance for the men, while a weekend sweep for the women may result in both a regular season title and the right to have next week’s Liberty League playoffs run through Skidmore.