Men’s Basketball- St. John Fisher 79, Nazareth 75

The St. John Fisher College men’s basketball team earned a share of the Empire 8 Regular Season title on Saturday after handing Nazareth College its first loss since January 11th as the Cardinals came out on top, 79-75, in the Battle of the Beaks inside Manning and Napier Varsity Gymnasium on Bobby Wanzer Court. With the win, Fisher improved to 17-8 on the year and 12-2 in the conference standings while the Golden Flyers, who will host the conference championship next weekend, slipped to 20-5, 12-2, respectively.

In typical Battle of the Beaks fashion, neither team was able to put the other in an early hole as the game featured five lead changes over the first 10 minutes of play. With the score knotted at 18-18, the Cardinals began to find their stride and used seven unanswered points to jump ahead, 25-18.

Trailing by seven with 5:29 remaining in the first half, the Golden Flyers scored the next four points to make it a one-possession game. The Cardinals countered with another run of their own as Leone drove to the basket and kicked it out to Matt Asenjo at the top of the key for a 3-pointer that sparked another 7-0 burst to stake the home team to a 10-point cushion, 32-22.

With time winding down, Nazareth kept it closed and made it six-point affair with 30 seconds to play, but Sullivan brought the crowd to its feet after connecting on a deep 3-pointer to give Fisher a 37-28 edge at the break.

The Cardinals carried their momentum over into the second half and built an 11-point lead, 52-41, after reeling off a quick 7-1 run that featured four points from Robinson. As the half continued, the lead would grow to as many as 13 after Brendan Trapper sank a shot from behind the arc to make it 63-50 with 9:38 still showing on the clock.

Facing an uphill climb and with plenty of time left to work with, Nazareth continued to battle and would use a 10-0 run over a span of three minutes to turn a double-digit deficit into a tie game, 65-65.

With 4:14 remaining in the game and the score leveled, Fisher regained control with seven consecutive points including an old-fashioned 3-point play from Hare to open up a 72-65 margin, but the Golden Flyers continued to push the pace and pulled to within one point with 20 seconds to play after outscoring Fisher 10-4 over a two-minute stretch.

Ahead by one, 76-75, with seconds left, Nazareth resorted to fouling to conserve time, but the Cardinals were up to the challenge and went 3-for-4 down the stretch to snap the Golden Flyers’ winning streak at 11 games.

Hare led Fisher with 25 points after shooting 10-for-17 from the floor. The senior guard added six rebounds and had four assists in the win. Leone added 14 points six boards and two steals while Robinson chipped in with 14 points – 12 of which came in the second half. Asenjo netted seven points in all while Trapper contributed 12 points and five rebounds off the bench.

The Cardinals are back in action at 7:30 p.m. on Friday when they make the short trek down East Avenue to take on third-seeded Utica College in the semifinal round of the Empire 8 Championship inside Kidera Gymnasium.

Women’s Basketball- St. John Fisher 77, Nazareth 64

The St. John Fisher College women’s basketball team put a stamp on its final regular season home game as the Cardinals ended the visiting Nazareth College Golden Flyers’ year behind a 77-64 win on Saturday inside Manning and Napier Varsity Gymnasium on Bobby Wanzer Court. With the win, Fisher, which has now won six straight and will host the Empire 8 Championship next weekend, improved to 19-6 on the year and 12-2 in the conference standings while Nazareth closed out the day at 16-9, 8-6, respectively.

After a back-and-forth first half of play that saw the Golden Flyers hold a three-point lead after 20 minutes of action, the Cardinals roared to life to begin the third quarter as a lay-up by Julia Mertsock sparked a 7-2 run that pushed the home team ahead, 41-39.

Leading by one possession with three minutes having ticked off the clock, the lead would changes hands five times of the next four minutes until a 3-pointer in the corner from sophomore Miranda Lynch ignited a stretch of seven unanswered points for Fisher to make it 56-50 with just under two minutes to go in the period.

As the quarter wore on, Nazareth cut the gap to three points, but the Cardinals controlled the pace over the final minute and scored five quick points to take a 61-53 leading into the final frame.

The momentum carried over into the fourth with Anna Milham beating her defender for a lay-up as part of a 7-1 Fisher run that gave head coach Melissa Kuberka’s squad a 14-point cushion. From there, Nazareth would come to within 10, but that was a close as the Golden Flyers would get as the Cardinals closed out the game with eight of the final 13 points to end Nazareth’s season.

Ella Eckert led the way for Fisher with her ninth double-double of the year. The sophomore scored a team-high 18 points to go along with 15 rebounds and five assists while Mertsock added 18 points of her own along with five rebounds and a steal. Lynch netted 12 points overall and had seven rebounds while Amy Gardner tallied 10 points and handed out four assists.

The Cardinals are back in action on Friday against fourth-seeded Hartwick College as they host the semifinal round of the Empire 8 Conference Championship inside Manning and Napier Varsity Gymnasium.