Keven Donohue knows being the leading scorer doesn’t have to be a full-time job.
The Hudson Falls graduate leads Union College with 16.4 points per game, good for third in the Liberty League, but he showed Tuesday he can keep his focus first on defense, letting the offense come to him.
Donohue has teammates like Joe Mason who can carry the ball for the Dutchmen, as he did in Union’s 79-65 rout of Rochester Institute of Technology at the Viniar Center.
“It’s a responsibility, but I take it with the flow of the game,” Donohue said. “Games like tonight, when Joe can take over and do whatever he wants, that’s fine. We’ve got guys like Terell [Winney] who can come off the bench and heat up real quick.
“So I’m not too concerned about that; I don’t feel any pressure to come out here and score however many points, because I know we get a lot of support from other guys.”
Mason scored a career-high 23 points, his penetration of the RIT defense driving the offense for himself and his teammates. He had three steals and handed out five assists, his 10th game and third consecutive this season with at least five.
Donohue drew a defensive assignment that had him switching, on occasion, from the post out to perimeter players.
He quietly scored seven points in the first half.
Midway through the second, quiet went out the window.
The Tigers had cut the Dutchmen’s lead to eight points, 53-45, on a Justin Heisig bucket at 12:58. Then Winney, a Scotia-Glenville graduate, hit a three-pointer to start a 17-2 Union run.
Shortly after Winney’s trey, Union coach Bob Montana called a timeout.
“We talked about continuing to respect the defensive end of the floor,” Montana said. “Like any team, it’s important to get stops, and that will lead to our offense.”
Exiting the timeout, Donohue scored the team’s next six points, the final two coming when he stole the ball and raced for a dunk with 8:40 left to play, securing a 60-47 lead.
“That’s right when we started closing out the game,” Donohue said. “We bounced back, we were pretty comfortable with what they were doing. We just had to reinforce how to go over the screens and when to double. We got that back on track.”
He finished with 15 points, hitting double figures for the 15th time in 16 games.
The Dutchmen (3-5 Liberty League, 10-6 overall) were working their offense during the run for better and smarter shots, hitting six of their seven shots from the field.
The other Dutchmen seized the momentum of that moment and piled on with points from six different players in the run.
Evan Croll finished with 12 points and six assists, and Winney had 10 points and three steals.
He leads the league in rebounding at 8.1 per game.
With the night Mason had, though, he was able to take care of his defensive assignment and watch the point guard work.
“Coach told me to be aggressive from the jump,” Mason said. “I just wanted to get out there and be aggressive from the get-go.”
There was no trace of the severe MCL sprain Mason suffered before the break. The junior also had last season cut short by a broken foot.
“I’m finally getting back to where I was last year,” Mason said. “I just want to keep it up, keep being aggressive.”
His final points of the night provided Union its largest lead at 74-50 with 5:10 left to play.
Harder 5-8 2-3 14, Canestro 3-6 0-0 8, Schuster 1-3 0-0 3, Scott 0-2 0-0 0, Heisig 8-17 2-2 19, Nicasio 0-5 0-0 0, Sweeney 0-1 0-0 0, Boyce 1-3 0-0 3, Balenton 2-6 1-2 5, Reinert 0-0 4-4 4, Lopez 2-3 0-0 4, Rutherford 0-0 0-0 0, Dobson 2-2 1-3 5. Totals: 24-56 10-14 65.
Dzanko 1-5 2-2 4, Donohue 6-11 2-2 15, Callies 1-3 0-0 3, Croll 3-6 5-6 12, Mason 9-15 2-4 23, Bentivegna 0-0 0-0 0, Dumas 0-0 0-0 0, Petrone 2-4 2-2 6, Winney 3-6 0-0 10, Shorey 1-2 1-1 3, Adler-Cohen 0-0 0-0 0, DeBisschop 1-3 1-1 3, Andrulis 0-0 0-0 0, Perez 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 28-55 15-18 79.
Halftime: Union 41, RIT 30. Three-point goals: Harder 2, Canestro 2, Schuster, Heisig, Boyce, Donohue, Callies, Croll, Mason 3, Winney 2.