Second half surge lifts men’s basketball over Utica

Michael Grassey '19 (Josh McKee photo)
Michael Grassey '19 (Josh McKee photo)

Michael Grassey '19 scored 19 of his game-high 24 points in the second half to guide the Hamilton College men's basketball team to a 90-85 victory over Utica College at Margaret Bundy Scott Field House on Friday night.

The Continentals (5-0 overall) shot 67.9 percent from the floor in the second half along with 70 percent from three-point range to recover from a 42-36 deficit at the half.

Grassey also collected a team-high six rebounds. Kena Gilmour '20 dropped in 19 points and recorded three steals. Peter Hoffmann '19 tallied 15 points, three assists and two steals. Tim Doyle '19 matched a career-high with seven assists and chipped in seven points.

Ivan Iton had 23 points and eight rebounds for Utica (2-3). Joe Stortini scored 16 points. Bennito Ayarza and Jake Kulakowski dropped in 15 points each, and Kulakowski collected 10 rebounds.

Gilmour dropped in back-to-back three pointers in the opening minutes of the game to give Hamilton an 8-4 edge, but Kulakowski and Stortini contributed two Utica buckets from three-point range to tie the score at 14-14. The teams combined for three more lead changes and one tie before Stortini's three-pointer at 11:17 gave the Pioneers the lead for the remainder of the first half.

Doyle drained a basket from downtown to get the Continentals within three points with 8:02 left in the first, but Utica went on a 13-2 run to gain its largest lead at 42-29 with 2:23 left in the first half. Hamilton responded with seven unanswered points in the final two minutes of the half to cut into Utica's lead.

The teams exchanged buckets to start the second before Joe Pucci '18 and Grassey hit back-to-back three-pointers to get Hamilton within three points. Utica added four quick points to cushion its lead, but back-to-back steals by Doyle and Gilmour ignited a 6-0 run to give Hamilton its first lead of the second half at the 9:43 mark.

Ayarza scored eight straight points for Utica to give the Pioneers back a four-point edge with 4:51 remaining before Hamilton went on the attack. Ty Washington '21 dropped in a three-pointer and added a steal to give Hoffmann back-to-back layups. The Pioneers tied the score once again at 78-78 with 2:43 left, but Hamilton closed the door with a 7-1 run and then finished the game by going a perfect 5-for-5 from the charity stripe.

Hamilton is back on the court on Saturday, Dec. 2 for a non-conference game against Eastern University (3-2) at 5 p.m. in Margaret Bundy Scott Field House.