Kaleigh White/The Campus
After over a year without intercollegiate competition, the Allegheny men’s and women’s basketball teams became the first to don the blue and yellow during their return to play last weekend. Despite concerns regarding the NCAC’s cancellation of a regular season for winter sports, each team was able to schedule a few exhibition games after taking the steps necessary to return to intercollegiate play.
The men’s basketball team opened at home on Friday with a win on senior night over Penn State Altoona, 108-81. Guard Brian Roberts Jr., ’22, led the team in scoring with 23 points, while forwards Mike Noonan, ’24, and Nijon Kirkman, ’21, grabbed 11 rebounds a piece. The bench was also involved, scoring 45 points in the win, indicating the excitement of the Gators to return to play.
“It felt amazing to finally be able to play again,” Peter Snipes, ’23, said. “Words can’t explain it, it just felt great to be out there again.”
The Gators trailed in the opening seconds, however the lead would only change, as Allegheny pulled ahead with 18 minutes remaining in the first half and continued adding to their lead for the remainder of the game. The Lions finished the game with more fast break points than the Gators, however the latter dominated in every other category.
“The energy was amazing from the team,” Snipes said. “We came out ready to play.”
While the men’s team began their season at home, the Allegheny women’s basketball team kicked off their season on the road with a win, defeating Mount Aloysius 85-69. This was the women’s teams first meeting with the Mounties in almost 10 years, scheduled due to the inability to schedule in-conference opponents this year.
“It’s been over a year since we’ve had any sort of competition like that so it was really nice to be out there on the court,” Forward Julianna Skowron, ’21 said. “Especially because we didn’t think we’d be getting any games at all.”
Similar to the men’s team, the Gators dominated the Mounties in nearly every category on the floor, with the bench providing a major spark in the 16-point opening night win. The women’s basketball team then returned home the next day, continuing their momentum with their own senior night win over Mount Aloysius, 91-68.
After a quick start, and an early first quarter lead atop the Mounties, the Gators cruised for the rest of the game. Guard Rylee Donavan, ’21, recorded a triple-double, scoring 10 points with 12 assists and 10 rebounds, and Skowron turned in a double-double, leading the team in scoring with 19 points, as well as grabbing 10 rebounds. Regardless of their own performance, the seniors were certain that their teammates were the reason for their success.
“I just think it helps that the girls I play with, everyone (was) getting open,” Donavan said. “It’s easy to get assists when everyone finishes.”
Although there is no postseason, the Gators indicated that this season is just as important as any other.
The men’s basketball team also competed at home on Saturday, completing a weekend sweep for Allegheny with another win against Penn State Altoona, 86-66. After a slow start to the first half, the Gators found their rhythm, taking the lead with a little over five minutes remaining in the half and holding it for the rest of the contest.
The Gators were led in scoring by Roberts Jr., turning in 19 points and shooting 8-17 from the field, also with six assists. Snipes contributed to the 20-point victory with 19 points and forward Andre Wilder, ’24, was a big factor off of the bench scoring 13 points and pulling down four of the team’s 18 offensive rebounds.
“I was struggling shooting at the beginning, luckily my teammates were bailing me out, able to still get me open shots and move with me,” Roberts Jr. said. “That’s to my teammates, I did not have the best night but they made sure I got the ball and put me in the right spots.”
Much like their first game of the season the night prior, the Gators attributed their success on the court to the energy they brought with them. Looking ahead, the men’s team is optimistic that this energy will continue for their six remaining games.
“We’re just focused on the next game that’s coming up, try to go 8-0 for our seniors, and try to have a great season from what we have to play,” Snipes said. “8-0 is our goal.”
The men’s basketball team will continue their season at home on Friday, March 26 at 7 p.m., when they take on the Mount Aloysius Mounties. The women’s basketball team will return to play on Thursday, March 25, when they play Penn State Altoona on the road. They will make their return to the David V. Wise Center at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 27, when they match-up against the Lions once more this season.