Tana’s 15 not enough as N.Y.U. Violets edged by streaking Bears

Ryan Tana was game in his final game, but the perennially Bears were just too tough.  Photo by daniel-jean lubin
Ryan Tana was game in his final game, but the perennially powerful Bears were just too tough. Photo by daniel-jean lubin

BY DANIEL-JEAN LUBIN  |  New York University’s men’s basketball team lost a tight contest in their final, regular-season, home game against conference powerhouse Washington University-St. Louis at the Coles gym, on Mercer St., on Sunday.

In the 79-75 loss, senior guard Ryan Tana scored a team-high 15 points to go along with a pair of steals and four assists. Tana along with fellow senior and his co-captain Jed Borovik were honored by university director of athletics, Christopher Bledsoe, university director of athletics, before the game.

Both Tana and Borovik were integral members of the team during the past four years.

Spurred on by the opening ceremonies, N.Y.U. (15-7 over all, 5-6 in the University Athletic Association) jumped out to a quick 5-point lead, 13-8 about five minutes in. After taking a timeout, which helped quiet down the raucous Coles gym, the Bears (20-2, undefeated in conference play) settled down. The Midwest team then responded by going on a 7-0 run to take a 15-13 lead.

An Evan Kupferberg jump shot cut the visitors’ lead to 30-26 with five minutes left in the half. But the Bears’ Alan Aboona answered back with a clutch 3-pointer.

Washington took a 40-35 lead into halftime.

The Bears opened the second half with a pair of layups in the opening minute to take a 9-point lead, their largest lead of the game, at 44-35. Center Costis Gontikas sparked the Violets with a powerful dunk. That began an 8-2 run to pull the Violets within 3 points at the 16:53 mark.

The N.Y.U. squad battled back to tie the game when Tana sunk an open 3 to knot it at 52-52. Minutes later, N.Y.U. regained the lead, 57-55, when Tana converted a layup with 9:55 left.

The Violets couldn’t hold that slim lead, however. They fought back to make it a 2-point game with two seconds left. But the Bears sealed the deal with a pair of free throws that put the game out of reach.

“I thought we played very hard and with a lot of intensity,” said Joe Nesci, the Violets head coach. “We did a good job of getting the ball inside, but Washington’s interior defense was very strong.”

With the win, Washington University-St. Louis, which had been riding a 14-game winning streak, secured its third-straight U.A.A. title and clinched a spot in the 2014 NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Championship. This is the Bears’ fifth U.A.A. title in the last six seasons. Washington University is the first program in conference history to win three straight conference banners.

The N.Y.U. hoops team will be back in action when they travel south to play at Emory University on Feb. 21. Next, they’ll go Upstate to take on the University of Rochester on Feb. 23, and will finish the three-game trip against Brandeis in their regular-season finale on March 2.