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Championship month underway; Tigers look to close out most successful winter in program history Sports

If anyone was in Ithaca or watched the men’s basketball Empire 8 Championship game against Nazareth on Sunday, they witnessed one of the more ridiculous finishes in recent memory. I was sitting on press row and was on pins and needles throughout the final five minutes of regulation and overtime. With RIT squandering a 14-point lead with 12 minutes left and facing sure elimination with a Nazareth player at the free throw line needing to make one free throw with 1.1 seconds left to win, things looked bleak. Unfortunately for Nazareth and their free throw shooter (you really have to feel bad for him), the two shots missed the mark and the Tigers escaped to overtime. In the extra session, RIT found another gear, made their free throws and escaped with the win. Mark Carson was named the 2009 Empire 8 Tournament Most Valuable Player.

This weekend, the Tigers will compete in the 2009 NCAA Tournament at Widener University, just south of Philadelphia. RIT will open against Salem State (Mass.) on Friday at 6 p.m. and if they win, will face the winner of Widener and Virigina Wesleyan on Saturday at 7 p.m. This is RIT’s seventh trip to the NCAA Tournament and first since 2000.

Congratulations to Head Coach Bob McVean, who not only led RIT to the NCAA Tournament this weekend, but also won his 400th game with the Tigers on Saturday against Utica. He is now 401-276 in 26 seasons at RIT.

Wrestlers Luke Baum and Mike McInally compete for the NCAA Championship in wrestling this weekend in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Both Baum and McInally are competing in their third straight NCAA Championship. Baum is seeded third at 141 lbs., while McInally is sixth at 125 lbs. Both men have excellent chances to garner All-American status and perhaps bring home RIT’s first NCAA Championship in the sport since Matt Hamill won three straight from 1997-99.

The women’s hockey squad is back in action after a weekend off and travel to Elmira to play in the ECAC West Tournament. The Tigers (21-2-2) play two-time defending champion SUNY Plattsburgh (21-3-2) in the second semifinal on Saturday at 3 p.m. If RIT wins, they will play the winner of Elmira/Neumann in the championship game at 3 p.m. on Sunday. No doubt, it will be a tough weekend for the Tigers, and despite being the No. 2 team in the nation, could find themselves on the outside looking in for the NCAA Tournament with a loss on Saturday. That being said, two wins and an ECAC Championship could mean RIT hosts the NCAA Tournament Final Four on March 20-21.

Click here for an interview with Head Coach Scott McDonald talking about the success of his team this season.

The 2009 AHA Regular Season co-Champion men’s hockey squad is off this weekend, and will await their opponent for next weekend’s AHA Quarterfinals, which will be held at Ritter Arena. Their opponent will be the highest remaining seed of #7 Holy Cross, #8 Sacred Heart, #9 Connecticut and #10 American International. Holy Cross plays AIC and Sacred Heart hosts Connecticut in a one-game playoff on Saturday evening. Tickets are on sale for next weekend’s best-of-three series (Friday, 7:05 p.m., Saturday, 7:05 p.m., and Sunday, 7:05 p.m. if neccesary) and are $10 for adults and $5 for students each night.

Men’s lacrosse opened the season with two nice wins on Friday and Monday. RIT opened with a win over Division II Adelphi in Long Island on Friday, then ventured down to Orlando, Fla. to defeat York (Pa.) on Monday. The trip down from Long Island to Florida was pretty routine for the players, who flew down with no problems. For Head Coach Gene Peluso and an unnamed assistant coach, the trip down to Florida was a little more cumbersome. Thanks to Jac Coyne of Lacrosse Magazine for the article.

Softball and baseball are currently in action. The softball squad is in Kissimmee, Fla., while the baseball team is in Phoenix, Ariz. I am pretty jealous, especially after three straight 15 degree days to start the week.


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