Albertus Magnus forward Tyler Sayre grabbed a rebound and holding on to the ball until the buzzer sounded on the Falcons' 65-57 victory over Xavier Monday in the finals of the Martin Luther King Holiday Basketball Tournament at Albertus.
Sayre never did have to give up the game ball after scoring 32 points, including the 1,000th of his career.
Sayre scored his 1,000th career point on a free throw in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
“It feels good, but it’s kind of like a team accomplishment, too,” Sayre said regarding his 1,000 points. “We’ve had good teams for three years, and I’ve been able to score points. We’ve been winning a lot of games, too. It definitely does feel good.”
The Falcons needed Sayre to score throughout the game against a resilient Xavier squad. The Falcons took a nine-point lead into the fourth quarter, but Xavier closed within five points with 3:33 left at 53-48. Albertus took back control, however, as point 1,001 for Sayre gave his team a 61-53 lead with 1:48 to go.
“They’re a tough team; they run great offense, they screen the heck out of you,” said Albertus Magnus head coach Pat McFadden. "They’re tough to play.”
The Falcons were behind 12-2 three minutes after tipoff as Xavier’s shooters found a rhythm early. Senior guard Brendan Ferguson was especially effective at coming off screens and draining 3-pointers.
“They were effective in the first quarter making shots,” McFadden said. “We had to adjust a little bit to hedge on their screens. I thought we did a much better job putting some heat on the ball by extending the floor a little bit. But I thought our guards really defended well. We really were one-and-done with them. They really didn’t get too many second shots, and I think that really helped us.”
The first quarter ended with Xavier up 17-12. Albertus was able to overtake the Knights by giving them a heavy dose of Sayre in the second quarter. The forward used his dangerous face-up game to score and his length to hit the offensive glass.
“We got the ball inside to Tyler and he got to the foul line and got us into the bonus,” McFadden said. “I think that was the key.”
Junior guard Jack Sullivan added 10 points for Albertus. Senior point guard Patrick McGuinness scored eight points while senior guard Arnell Dandridge added another eight points, including two corner 3-pointers to stretch the lead in the third quarter.
Ferguson lead Xavier with 21 points while junior forward Matt Crockett scored 19, including a flurry of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. Sophomore guards Kevin Crockett and Liam Monaghan scored seven apiece.
Sayre said the title game was important because it was an Albertus Magnus tournament.
“We won it last year, so we just wanted to come in and win on our home floor,” he said. “The game is definitely a little bit more important than the rest for us.”
After the game, McFadden said Sayre’s best trait is that he competes.
“He’s a weapon,” he said. “He’s tough to guard, inside-out. But he competes because he rebounds, he blocks shots. I couldn’t pick one- there’s 10 things he does well every time he’s out on the floor.
“I couldn’t be happier. He’s been such a pleasure to coach. He’s a low-maintenance kid; he just shows up. He’s never missed a game, he’s never missed a practice, he never misses a drill. He does everything that a coach asks. I wish we had him for four more years.”