TROY, N.Y. – Freshman Will Rubin connected on a pair of free throws to break a tie with 2.7 seconds remaining and sophomore Mason Memmelaar added two more points from the foul line to help the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) men’s basketball team defeat Hobart College 58-54 in a showdown for first place in the Liberty League. Rensselaer improves to 14-1 in the conference and 19-3 overall, while the Statesmen are now 12-3 and 18-4. The Engineers have a two-game lead on both Hobart and Ithaca College (12-3; 17-5) with three games to play.
RPI held a 54-53 lead after a Rubin layup with just under a minute to play but the Statesmen tied it with 21 seconds remaining when Dan Masino made the second of two free throws following an offensive rebound from teammate Tucker Lescoe. The Engineers took the clock down to under 10 seconds when Rubin drove the right side of the court and was fouled. He knocked down both free throw attempts for a two point lead, 56-54. Hobart attempted a long pass from the base line, but turned the ball over. Memmelaar was fouled with 1.0 seconds remaining on the subsequent inbound play and made both of his attempts for the final margin.
The Statesmen held a 32-23 lead with under 10 seconds left in the first half before Rensselaer’s Dom Black closed out the frame with a driving layup. Memmelaar pulled the Engineers three points closer with a hoop and a free throw, but Masino made a trey for a 35-28 advantage. RPI scored the next six points, including four from Patrick Mahoney, and the game remained within two possessions from that point on. Hobart went ahead by five points (41-36) with 12:20 to play and Rensselaer managed its first lead of the second half (51-50) 10 minutes later on a free throw from Black.
A guard, Black led the Engineers in points with 14, rebounds with seven and assists with two. Rubin scored 13 points, as did Memmelaar, who also had seven boards. Mahoney finished with 11 points with five rebounds, two assists, a block and two steals for the home team, which shot just 33.9 percent in the game.
Hobart, which made 40.4 percent of its shots, got game-highs of 16 points and 11 rebounds from freshman Daniel Cook. Masino scored 13 points and Edens Fleurizard scored 10 points with seven rebounds.
The Statesmen are back on the road on Saturday when they play at fifth place Vassar College (6-9; 10-12). Rensselaer hosts eighth place RIT (5-10; 8-14) on Senior Day on Saturday. Both games begin at 4pm.