Down by as many as 13 points in second half, the ESF men's basketball team mounted a furious comeback to defeat the Paul Smith's College Bobcats, 77-74, in overtime to win the Barkeater Cup.
ESF got off to a cold start at the beginning of the game, scoring their first basket four minutes into the match. The Mighty Oaks settled down and built a nine-point lead midway through the first half. Poor shooting and turnovers enabled the Bobcats to claw back and take a six-point lead at half time, 39-33.
The Bobcats started the second half strong while poor shooting and turnovers continued to plague ESF. With 10 minutes remaining in the half, Paul Smith's College held a commanding 13-point lead, 40-53. ESF went on a small run propelled by freshman Logan Ameele and sophomores Zack Dormer and Henry Pflaumer. With three minutes remaining in the game, ESF fought back to cut the lead to four, 67-63. The combination of clutch free throw shooting in the final minutes by Pflaumer and missed shots by the Bobcats brought the game to a tie, 67-67, at the end of regulation.
In overtime, both teams traded baskets in the opening minutes. The game changer was an intentional foul called on the Bobcats with less than a 15 seconds remaining in overtime and ESF holding on to a one-point lead, 75-74. The intentional foul gave ESF two free throws and possession of the ball. Pflaumer made one of two free throws and in the next possession Dormer was fouled where he also made one of two free throws giving ESF a 77-74 win.
"This was an outstanding win in an outstanding environment. To come back from 13 points down with 10 minutes to play says a lot about the character of these guys. A huge thanks to the students, parents and fans as they helped with our comeback," said Head Coach John D'Antonio.
The game was played in the Carrier Dome before a cheering crowd of ESF fans. Before the game, the ESF community celebrated the accomplishments of the seniors on the basketball as they wrap up their careers as Mighty Oaks players.
ESF finishes the season with an 8-12 record, 3-4 in conference play. Paul Smith's College end their season with a 10-21 overall record.