Four free throws in the final minute iced a hard-fought game between Vassar College and the Clarkson University Men’s Basketball team, as the Golden Knights breathed a sigh of relief after the 15-footers from Rey Jefferson (Budd Lake, NJ) and Keith Murray (Queens, NY), giving the Green and Gold a 62-52 Liberty League victory Friday night at Alumni Gymnasium.
The Golden Knights ended a two-game losing skid with the victory, improving to 7-4 overall with their conference opening win. Vassar dropped to 2-9 overall and 0-1 in the Liberty League.
Coming out a little flat, the Golden Knights couldn’t buy a make from the outside and Vassar’s pesky guards were creating chances for their big men while making their own jumpers from the perimeter. The Brewers pushed their advantage to as many as nine points midway through the half as Clarkson continued to struggle from the field. Eventually, the Knights were able to get back into the game as some shots were bound to fall, while Vassar was enduring its own trouble from the free throw line, starting the half 1-for-9 before making two more to end the period.
At the end of 20 minutes, Vassar was shooting 32.1 percent from the floor (9-for-28), barely out doing the Knights 30.0 percent (9-for-30). Caleb McGraw led all scorers with eight points through the first half, while Felix Llanos (Queens, NY) paced Clarkson with six points.
After a 3-pointer from Caleb McGraw, giving Vassar a 28-27 lead, Clarkson ran off eight straight points, with five coming from Llanos on a 3-pointer and a put-back lay up, to take its biggest lead of the ballgame. Vassar didn’t fold, however, as the team steadily came back to a one-point deficit. After a lay up from Brandon Linton returned the lead to nine points with seven minutes to go, the Brewers again proved to be feisty on the boards and in the paint in making tough lay ups and short jumpers.
A critical time in the game came in the final 1:16 as Vassar had just three team fouls, making it very difficult for the team to get its necessary offensive possessions after foul shots and clock stoppages. Finally, in the bonus with 44 seconds to go, Jefferson and Murray made their freebies to give Clarkson the victory.
Jefferson finished with 14 points to lead the Knights and Llanos closed with 11 points. Murray added 9 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Caleb McGraw led all scorers with 20 points and Nicholas Justiz added 13 points for the Brewers.