VESTAL – For the first time all season, Norwich’s lack of size was an impediment to its success.
Vertically challenged at nearly every position, the Purple Tornado were denied their first STAC championship in 19 years losing to Maine-Endwell, 51-46, at Binghamton University’s Events Center Sunday afternoon.
The Spartans extended possessions with numerous offensive boards, and on the defensive end officially had eight blocked shots. Unofficially, perhaps twice as many Norwich shots were altered or changed.
“Their height was probably our biggest concern coming into the game,” said Norwich coach Tom Collier.
Collier’s concern was well-founded. The Spartans started 6-foot-7 senior forward Chris Heimes, and he was book-ended by athletic 6-foot-5 juniors Kyle Gallagher and Jake Sinicki. “As a team, they just killed us on the boards,” Collier said. “I don’t know what the final rebound numbers were, but I bet they were double what we had.”
As bad as the rebounding was for Norwich, it still nearly pulled out the game. Trailing by six midway through the fourth quarter, Norwich closed to within 47-46 with Mike Sutton scoring five straight points. Sutton’s two free throws with 1:20 left capped the mini rally, and an ill-advised three by Gallagher – one of his few miscues on the night – gave Norwich the ball with just over a minute to play.