The shot that ended NYU men’s basketball’s season

A disappointing first-round defeat to Lancaster Bible College ended the Violets’ season.


The NYU men’s basketball team ends its season after a loss to Lancaster Bible College. (Courtesy of NYU Athletics)

Pablo Ocariz, Staff Writer

NYU men’s basketball lost 64-67 against Lancaster Bible College in the first round of the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament in Alliance, Ohio, on Friday, March 3.  

The Violets did not expect the season to end like this — they had a promising run against in-conference opponents at the end of the regular season, only for their efforts to conclude in heartbreak.

After a season full of ups and downs, the Violets had finally qualified for the Big Dance. Friday night in Alliance, they were ready to take on anyone, and their first challenge was the Chargers.

“We never underestimate our opponent,” said combo guard Zay Freeney. “Everyone in the tournament is a great team.”

The opening minutes of the game were back and forth. With just over six minutes left in the first half, the Violets held onto a very narrow 25-24 lead. After that, however, the momentum swung in favor of LBC. The Chargers went on a 17-0 run in the following five minutes — that’s 17 unanswered points. Going into the locker room, the Violets were down 41-29, and the second half didn’t start off any better.

The second frame began with another big LBC run, as they expanded their lead to 20 points with only 16 minutes left. They managed to keep the Violets at arms length for a long time, and NYU was unable to significantly cut the lead for most of the second half.

With nine minutes left in the game, the Chargers continued to hold a sizable lead of 59-42. Afterwards, NYU began to make inroads in the deficit and attempted to mount a comeback.

Graduate transfers Michael Savarino and Spencer Freedman had been great all season, with Freedman even earning All-UAA First Team honors. Now that NYU needed them most, and they had to dig themselves out of a hole to save their season, they showed up.

The two graduate students combined to score or assist on 15 of the Violets next 19 points over six minutes, in a potentially season-saving 19-2 run. It culminated with forward Quinn Clark making a short jump shot to tie the game with 2:57 left on the clock.

In the next two minutes after Clark’s bucket, neither team was able to find the basket. Finally, LBC broke the drought with a 3-pointer that gave the Chargers a 64-61 lead with 53 seconds left.

Savarino almost immediately answered on the other end as he sank a 3-pointer off an assist by guard Nikola Lipovic to tie it up once again. 

With nine seconds left, Chargers’ guard Jordan Shewbridge pulled up from the 3-point line and drilled the shot for the game-winning basket. Shewbridge finished with 20 points on the night, including five 3-pointers. Freeney had a chance to send the game into overtime with a 3-pointer of his own, but ultimately came up short as time expired. 

A 3-pointer ended another great run from this NYU men’s basketball team — a team that had to play their way back into the tournament after a losing streak, and had to play their way into this game after a bad run. The Violets managed to win five straight games to even make it to the tournament, and had to go on a 19-2 run to tie the score. Their chance to stay in the game hinged on one shot — but, unfortunately, it instead marked the end of a tumultuous season for the Violets.

Contact Pablo Ocariz at [email protected].