March Madness was in full swing this weekend for NYU men’s and women’s basketball. Both Violet squads ended their seasons, the men in the Eastern College Athletic Conference championship game and the women in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Basketball’s weekend began on Friday, as the women’s team played host to Virginia-Wesleyan College. The game was much closer than most anticipated, as Virginia-Wesleyan hung tough and only lost by a point 51-50. Junior forward Megan Dawe led the way with 12 points on
It appeared that the close game from Friday wore them out on Saturday. In their round two matchup against Amherst, the Violets came out looking flat and proved to be clearly outmatched, losing by a final score of 70-47 on their home court. Their offense struggled to do much of anything in the first half, as they turned the ball over multiple times trying to feed Dawe in the post. Star senior guard Melissa Peng was neutralized, as she scored just two points on 1-10 shooting in the game. Head coach Lauren Hall-Gregory, though disappointed in their loss, was pleased with her team’s 22-5 season.
“This was an outstanding season,” Hall-Gregory said. “I’m really proud of our team and these players, from where we started three years ago to where we are now.”
Dawe once again shone, especially in the second half, as she finished with a team-high 19 points. With a free throw late in the second half, she scored her 1,000th career point to a large ovation from the crowd.
The men’s team, disappointed to not be playing in the NCAA tournament alongside the women, still made the best of their ECAC tournament appearance. They took care of business in their game on Saturday against Rutgers University-Newark behind a strong game from junior forward Evan Kupferberg. Kupferberg bounced back from a tough night against Rutgers-Camden last week by pouring in 21 points and grabbing 16 boards.
In the championship game on Sunday, the game went into double overtime and the Violets lost a heartbreaker 84-80 to the College of Staten Island. They battled back from an eight-point deficit in the first half to tie things up at the end of the second half — and that’s when the madness ensued. Both teams were dead even through another overtime period. A balanced scoring attack from Violets standouts Harris, Kupferberg and junior center Costis Gontikas was not enough to overcome the Dolphins’ resiliency. They finished with 26, 20 and 15 points respectively.
Junior guard Max Ralby, who was active on the boards by grabbing eight rebounds from the guard spot, expressed his disappointment for the loss.
“It was a really tough loss tonight,” Ralby said. “We fought really hard coming back from eight down at the end of the first half. We just didn’t come up with the big plays down the stretch.”
However, the Violets will surely have something to build on for the 2015-16 season, returning all five of their regular starters. Kupferberg, Gontikas, Harris, Ralby and forward Patrick Burns will all be seniors next year, and they will spearhead the Violets’ hopes for an NCAA championship.
“I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of this team with such a great group of guys,” Ralby said. “We didn’t back down tonight. All I know is, we will use this game as a tool for next year and motivation to come back even stronger.”
A version of this article appeared in the March 9 print edition. Email Bobby Wagner at [email protected]