Simply put, it was a great basketball game. Then again, one might expect nothing less in a Liberty League matchup.
Rallying from a 10-point deficit, Hobart College came back to force overtime. The Statesmen then got two free throws with two seconds left in the OT to escape with a 67-66 Liberty win over Skidmore College before 385 fans at the Williamson Sports Center.
Hobart (6-4, 2-0), coming off a 90-85 win Friday over RPI, forced the extra session when Stefan Thompson hit an NBA-range three-point goal at the buzzer ending regulation.In the OT, it came down to the final seconds one more time, as the Statesmen's Richie Bonney drilled to free throws to secure the win.
"I knew this would be a big weekend for us," Hobart coach Mike Neer said. "Skidmore is good and I think we're good. We had to play 40 and 45 minutes to get them, but by the slimmest of margins we came out of the weekend with two wins, so I'm proud."
"It's a grinder," Skidmore coach Joe Burke said. "I heard Tanner (Brooks) say the same thing. Every one of them is going to be that way. They made the play at the end that won it - that's what it comes down to.
"They're a great program. We have battled with them for two years and played some great basketball games."
Hobart scored the first five points of the extra session, capped by a Thompson free throw. But the Thoroughbreds were not done and came back to take a 66-65 lead with 15 seconds left on a Brooks jumper.
"It was back and forth the whole way," Brooks said. "We got up and knew they were going to fight back, which they did. That's the way it is in this league."
That left, as it turned out, plenty of time for the exciting finish. Fouled going for a rebound, Bonney calmly stepped to the line with two seconds left and hit the game-winning free throws.
"We got them to miss, which was great," Burke said. "But the kid Bonney is just a warrior. He found a way to get the loose ball and he obviously got the foul call."
Taking a lead it would hold for most of regulation at 20-18 with a Doolun Anyam bucket, Skidmore could never shake the Statesmen. Holding a 31-28 lead at the break, the Thoroughbreds appeared to have taken control building a 10-point lead (47-37) at 9:03 on a Anyam layup.
However, Hobart had other ideas.
"They got it to 10 and were ready to spread the floor," Neer said. "We tried to buy some time mixing up some zones, basically forcing the young guns to have to make plays under duress. The whole thing for us was to keep it close at that point."
"I didn't feel great when we were up 10, because they're very good and I knew they would chip away," Burke said. "The bottom line is the game was never out of reach. It was 10 points, but it felt like two the whole way."
Starting with a Connor Rehbaum three-pointer, Hobart began its comeback. Two Aldin Medunjanin gave Skidmore a 60-56 lead with 56 seconds left, but Thompson got one back at the line and with 19 seconds left, the stage was set for the final seconds after a Thoroughbred turnover.
"That kid hit an unbelievable shot," Burke said. "He hit a three in our guy's face. He's an all-conference player for a reason. We just had to play it straight and to the kid's credit, he hit a big time shot."
Bonney hit nine of 13 field goal attempts en route to a game-high 29 points to lead Hobart. Joe Gibbons added 12 points and Thompson finished with 11. Brooks totaled 24 points and collected a team-high 10 rebounds to pace Skidmore.
Looking ahead, Burke said the Thoroughbreds need to do one thing - forget about this game.
"I want them to be disappointed, but bury this thing in 24 hours," he said. "We have to go to the north country and play St. Lawrence, which in my estimation, is arguably the hardest place to win a basketball game."
Following Tuesday's game at St. Lawrence, Skidmore has a Friday matchup at Union College, before returning home to face the Rochester Institute of Technology Saturday.
"We have a lot of potential and lots of room to grow," Brooks said. "But we need to work on closing out games. Everyone is talking about how young we are, but we have a lot of fight in us."
ON THE WIRE