New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Men’s basketball finishes strong season with tough loss

The Violets end their 2023-24 campaign in nail-biting loss to Tufts University.
A+man+in+a+white+N.Y.U.+basketball+jersey+makes+a+layup+with+a+basketball+while+playing+against+players+wearing+blue+jerseys.
Matt Petres
Junior Zay Freeney makes a layup in NYU’s championship game against Tufts University. (Matt Petres for WSN)

The NYU men’s basketball team finished one of its best regular seasons in recent years this Saturday, after a 62-65 loss to Tufts University. 

The Violets ended the season with a record of 21-6, their best since 2016. They also had a 10-4 University Athletic Association Division III record and won a co-UAA championship with Case Western Reserve University — their first UAA title since 1994. 

Despite sharing the title with Case Western, the Violets earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year and secured hosting duties for the first time since 2012. The Violets have been playing in the newly opened Paulson Center for the first time this season, and it was the host for the first and second rounds of the NCAA tournament this past weekend.

The Violets tipped off their first game of the tournament against Husson University on Friday night, winning 82-61 after leading by 10 points at the half. As a squad, the Violets shot 48.4% from the field, had 15 assists, and grabbed 46 rebounds. NYU out-rebounded the fifth-ranked rebounding team in all of Division III by a margin of 10. 

Graduate student and guard Spencer Freedman shined on offense, scoring 29 points and contributing five rebounds and seven assists. Columbia University graduate transfer and center Emmanuel Onuama grabbed 13 boards and had 16 points for his third double-double.

“Super proud of this group — we saw how hard it is to win NCAA Tournament games, and our guys just locked in and played at a different level,” said Head Coach Dave Klatsky in the post-game conference. “The crowd helped us tremendously, and to play at home, it helps.”

A man in a white jersey helps up his teammate from the floor. Cheerleaders in the background watch in shock.
Senior Emmanuel Onuama helps up teammate Zay Freeney. (Matt Petres for WSN)

The Violets’ second game was on Saturday night back at the Paulson Center against the Tufts University Jumbos. The Violets’ season came to an end after dropping the ball by only three points.

The Jumbos led by 11 points with 12 minutes to go in the second half, but defensive adjustments by NYU coupled with multiple scoring runs allowed the Violets to move the score to 58-55 with 5:40 left. 

With just three seconds on the clock, NYU had the ball in its hands. In the last play of the game, graduate transfer and forward Konrad Kiszka found sophomore forward Quinn Clark on the opposite side of the court. Clark passed the ball to Freedman who had it knocked out of his hands, ending the Violets’ tournament hopes. 

Much of NYU’s success this season came from graduate transfers Michael Savarino from Duke University and Freedman from Harvard University joining the Violets last season. During their second season with the Violets, these two players assisted in reviving a team that had not seen success in eight years. 

“There’s nothing better than playing the game you love with people you love,” Freedman said. 

Both Savarino and Freedman played their final collegiate basketball game on Saturday night and in the postgame conference reflected on their time in a Violets jersey.

“I would say this is the best decision I have ever made in my entire life,” said Savarino about choosing to transfer to NYU. “Best city, best school, best program, and we have hopefully left this place better than we received it.”

NYU has four other graduating players, including Cinque Stephens, Hayden Peek, Jacob Sussman and Kiszka.

While the Violets are losing core pieces to their team, they had an excellent season to reflect on. NYU made it to the second round in the tournament for the first time since 2016, added their 11th 20-win season in program history, and never left the D3hoops top 25 ranking.

Two women in a crowd hold up cardboard letters painted purple, spelling N.Y.U.
Fans holding cardboard cutout letters. (Matt Petres for WSN)

Contact Liam Restivo at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Matt Petres, Photo Editor
Matt Petres is a first-year studying Economics. He is from Chicago, Illinois and likes to bike and kayak. You can contact him on Instagram @matt.petres

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