Rams Defeat Purchase; Advance to Skyline Finals

George Riefenstahl
George Riefenstahl

#1 Farmingdale State - 87, #4 Purchase - 72

Farmingdale, N.Y. - The top-seeded Farmingdale State men's basketball team led by 12 at half en route to an 87-72 victory over #4 Purchase in the Skyline Conference Semifinals. The Rams will now play host to #2 Sage in the Finals on Saturday.

Farmingdale State (19-7) came out firing scoring the first nine points of the game to quickly jump out in front. After Purchase (17-10) cut the deficit to 11-7 with 15:42 left in the first half, the Rams used an 8-0 run capped of by a Matthew Graham (Valley Stream, N.Y.) 3-pointer to extend the advantage to 19-7.

The Rams held a 23-14 lead with 8:23 on the clock when sophomore forward Eddie Higgins (Bellmore, N.Y.) connected on his first 3 of the season to put FSC ahead, 26-14.

After a Brian Berrios (New York, N.Y.) 3-pointer brought the PC deficit back to nine, 26-17, Farmingdale State responded with three straight baskets to increase the lead to 32-17.

Trailing 36-22 with 3:33 remaining, the Panthers used a 6-0 run over the next 1:07 to close within eight, 36-28. The Rams outscored Purchase 5-1 over the final minutes of the half as they took a 41-29 advantage into the break.

The Panthers opened the second half hitting 1-of-2 at the line, before sophomore forward George Riefenstahl (Bayport, N.Y.) scored the next six FSC points to open up a 47-30 lead.

With 14:25 left to play and PC down 54-35, an 8-0 Panthers run which saw a pair of Berrios 3's cut the deficit to 11, 54-43.

With less than 11 minutes remaining and FSC on top 61-47, a put-back dunk by Riefenstahl off a missed layup by Ali Mableton (Brentwood, N.Y.) increased the advantage to 16. After a 10-2 Purchase run pulled the Panthers to within 10, back-to-back Mableton scores put the Rams up 69-55 with 8:04 left on the clock.

Leading 78-67, Graham converted a layup and hit a 3-pointer on the next two FSC possessions to put the Rams ahead 16 and the game out of reach. Farmingdale State went on for the 87-72 semifinal victory.

Graham led the way with a team-high 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting, while Riefenstahl had 16 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. Mableton, who shot 7-for-10 from the field, finished the night with 16 points and junior guard Trey Kinard (Deer Park, N.Y.) pitched in with 13 points. Senior forward Weldon Irvine* (Queens, N.Y.) scored eight points, had 11 boards and five assists in the win.

The Panthers were led by Berrios' game-high 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting, including 5-for-10 from behind the arc.

In the other Skyline Semifinal game, #2 Sage earned an 84-77 victory over #3 Old Westbury.

The Rams will host #2 Sage in the Finals on Saturday, February 25th at 5:00 p.m. The winner of that game will receive the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament.