A championship in our tipoff tournament with wins over Albertus Magnus in the first game and Western Connecticut in the final provided us with the confidence to begin the season strongly.
Leo Jones ('02) was named the tournament MVP as he led us with 39 points and 19 rebounds in the two games. Matt Hochstein ('00) earned a spot on the all-tournament team with a solid floor game and 16 points in the championship game.
By the time the final exam break began we had compiled a 6-1 record against a quality early-season schedule in which four of the opponents would earn post-season bids.
January would provide the toughest challenge of our schedule. After two wins in early in the month back-to-back losses to Amherst and then Williams set us back immeasurably, both physically and emotionally.
It was imperative that we find a way to win. A game the following afternoon against an aggressive Middlebury team was no easy task. Fatigue from the previous night combined with mounting frustration from the previous four games were major obstacles. Despite trailing 52-44 with seven minutes remaining, we allowed only one more field goal and earned a 65-57 home victory.
We were 4-4 over the final eight games of the season. Two conference losses at the buzzer proved very difficult to overcome. However, our players showed tremendous resolve in winning two out of our last three games against conference opponents with two of those games played on the road.
With Leo Jones leading the way with 27 points and eight rebounds, we earned a huge victory at Hamilton. Chad Gordon ('03) accounted for 14 points along with three blocks and three steals and Matt Hochstein scored 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds as the Cardinals conquered the Continentals, 77-72. Hamilton would later advance to the NCAA tournament by winning its conference tournament.
The final home game of the season-Senior Night-was against Conn College. Our five seniors started the game and set the tone for the game as we played one of our better offensive games of the season. The game went down to the wire and despite being tied at 73 with two minutes remaining, we were unable to take the lead, ultimately losing 88-82.
I was extremely pleased with the way we responded four days later at Trinity. We continued the high-quality offense we had played in the previous two games, executing very well, attacking the basket aggressively and sharing the ball. Five players scored in double figures. We had 21 assists on 27 field goals and shot 33-for-44 (75%) from the foul line.
Leo Jones again led the way with 24 points and 17 rebounds, Sean O'Brien closed out his career with 18 points and a truly memorable floor game, Matt Hochstein hit for 14 points including 9-of-12 from the foul line, Josh Meyer chipped in 12 points and Avery Esdaile added 10 points in his final game.
The final score of 92-81 marked the first victory for the seniors in their careers over Trinity and all five played the last two minutes of the game to wrap up the victory, together.