In its first match of the season, ESF faced off against Finger Lakes Community College.
ESF opened up the game with some hot outside shooting from senior Andrew Koch and sophomore James Squier. Five minutes into the game, the score was tied 11-11. The Lakers' outside shooting picked up late in the first half, giving them a 37-30 at halftime.
Looking to close the gap at the start of the second half, ESF unfortunately came out flat and turned the ball over on three consecutive possessions, allowing Finger Lakes to extend its lead.
Led by senior Tyler Kuhn on the glass and some solid defense, the Mighty Oaks were able to bounce back and pull to within three, 42-39, with 14 minutes remaining in the game. Finger Lakes countered with a run of its own, hitting consecutive jumpers and extending its lead to 53-41. ESF was able to cut the lead to single digits over the next six minutes but could not get any closer as the Lakers left Syracuse with a 78-62 win.
Kuhn chipped in 13 points and tied a career high with 15 rebounds. Junior Justin VanDuLuitgaarden had 12 points along with six rebounds and five assists. The Lakers were led by freshman guard Keon Dunbar's 27 points.
Later in the week, ESF traveled to SUNY Broome. The Mighty Oaks had never won at the Hornets' home court. That would change as the Mighty Oaks came out with a 71-67 win.
In a game that was tight throughout, ESF fell behind early, 7-2, but settled down as the VanDuLuitgaarden-to-Kuhn high-low connection helped tie up the game at 10-10 with 15 minutes remaining in the first half. ESF grabbed the lead off a pair of free throws by freshman Henry Pflaumer to go up 20-16. The teams continued to trade leads throughout but ESF closed the half with two three-pointers from senior Cory Rogers to enter halftime with a 32-30 lead.
The Hornets came out with some hot shooting, connecting on 10 three-pointers in the game and took a 54-49 lead at the start of the second half. Pflaumer's outside shooting kept the Mighty Oaks in the game. A layup by VanDuLuitgaarden in the closing minutes helped ESF to take the lead for good at 67-66. The Mighty Oaks clinched the win from the free-throw line, 71-67.
ESF was again led by Kuhn who filled up the stat book, coming one block short of a triple-double with 19 points, 18 rebounds and 9 blocks and finishing 9 for 10 from the charity stripe. The 18 rebounds was career high for Kuhn and also ties the program record set in 2016-17 by Ryan Caldwell. Kuhn set a program record with nine blocks. Pflaumer chipped in 16 points off the bench and VanDuLuitgaarden added 10 points. Sophomore forward Raheim Grant had 15 points, seven rebounds and four steals for the Hornets.
ESF returns to action Nov. 17 and 18 at the Penn State Worthington/Scranton Tip-Off Tournament.