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February 1st, 2012

Vassar Falls in 76-73 Loss to Clarkson

Vassar Freshman Johnny Mrlik led the Brewers with 19 points.
PoughkeepsieClarkson University erased a 15-point first half deficit by going on a 19-0 run and held off a furious late game comeback by the Vassar College men's basketball team, to register a tight 76-73 Liberty League victory on Saturday afternoon at the Athletics & Fitness Center.

The first half was decidedly lopsided for both teams, as the Brewers used five 3-pointers in building a 33-18 first half lead. Clarkson absorbed the gut punch, and used four 3-pointers – all by junior guard Felix Lianos – to go on a 19-0 run and head into halftime with a 37-35 lead. The Brewers went 0-for-7 from the field during Clarkson's game-altering spurt, but managed to comeback from two 11-point second half deficits and come within two points, 75-73, with 16 seconds remaining following a clutch 3-pointer by freshman guard Johnny Mrlik.

On the ensuing inbound after Mrlik's score, Vassar caught up with the speedy Clarkson team in the frontcourt, and fouled Lianos with 4.8 seconds left. He converted the first of two free throws for a 76-73 Clarkson lead. On Vassar's inbound, the Brewers turned the ball over at midcourt amidst tenacious Clarkson pressure and lost possession as time ran out.

Vassar drops to 6-11, 2-6 in Liberty League play. Clarkson improves to 13-4, 6-2. Vassar remains idle until hosting Skidmore on February 3 at 8:00 p.m. Clarkson will host St. Lawrence at 8:00 p.m. on January 31.

The Brewers looked poised for an upset when busting out to a 33-18 lead with 7:49 to play until halftime. Sizzling 3-point shooting from junior guard Jon Herzog and Mrlik, who had five three's between them, paved the way. Clarkson's Lianos, who took seven 3-pointers in the first half and made five, connected on four straight from long range in the Golden Knights' 19-0 run that swung the game's momentum in a frantic four minute stretch of action.

Within the first four minutes of the second half, Clarkson pushed its lead to 50-40 after senior guard Tyler Baron connected on one of his team's 12 made 3-pointers with 15:03 to play. The Golden Knights, who held two 11-point leads, capitalized on a Vassar shooting drought that went from 52 percent in the first half to just 37 percent in the second half, and from 54 percent from 3-point distance to a mere 20 percent.

Still, the Brewers didn't falter and mounted a formidable comeback, orchestrated by Mrlik and Herzog. Vassar came storming back from 11 down with 5:48 to play to within two points at 72-70 with 2:24 remaining after Herzog sliced his way through the lane for a layup basket. The Brewers missed two 3-point attempts before Mrlik connected on his sixth of the game with 16 seconds remaining.

Mrlik led the Brewers with 19 points, while backcourt mate Herzog had a season-best 18 points. Freshman center Alex Snyder earned a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Synder's rugged play inside helped the Brewers control the backboard 47-33 and earn a 17-6 advantage in second chance baskets. Clarkson negated that statistic by forcing 21 Vassar turnovers that resulted in a 25-13 gap in points off turnovers.

Clarkson got 19 points each from one of the league's finest backcourts in Lianos and senior guard Marques Charlton. Freshman forward John Coleman had 17 points and a team-best seven rebounds.

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