Men’s basketball falls in tight game to Wesleyan, 58-56

Men’s basketball (5-1, 0-1 in the NESCAC) could not convert its recent success against non-conference opponents into a victory over defending NESCAC Champion Wesleyan on Saturday, narrowly conceding the game 58-56. Usual starters Mike Greenman ’17 and Chris Galvin ’18 were out due to injury.

In spite of the loss, the Ephs found much success in the game, outplaying the Cardinals in the first half. Center Ed Flynn ’16 drove to the basket for a two-handed jam with 5:28 remaining in the first half to extend the Ephs early lead to 26-12. After a timeout, the Cardinals went on a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to 26-19. Swingman Daniel Aronowitz ’16 killed the Cardinals’ momentum with a three-pointer off a beautiful feed from center Michael Kempton ’19. The Ephs and the Cardinals traded baskets for the remainder of the half and the Ephs went into the locker room with a 34-25 lead. Aronowitz had 12 points and nine rebounds at halftime.

Wesleyan came out on fire in the second half with forward Joseph Kuo converting an and-one on Wesleyan’s first possession of the half. Guard Harry Rafferty then nailed a three soon after to cut the Williams lead down to 37-33, before forward Nathan Krill tied the game at 38 on a layup with 14:16 remaining. Less than a minute later, B.J. Davis made a three to give Wesleyan a 41-38 lead. Kevin O’Brien’s three from the right wing capped an 18-1 run for the Cardinals, giving them a 46-38 lead.

The Ephs could not buy a shot, but stayed in the game with competent free throw shooting, going 14-18. Bobby Casey ’19 broke the Ephs cold shooting streak from outside to cut the Cardinals’ lead to 49-47. Casey had a chance on the next possession to give the Ephs the lead with a three from the corner. Unfortunately, his shot hit the rim and Wesleyan guard Davis converted a breakaway layup to extend the Cardinals’ lead to four. A few possessions later, a beautiful drive to the basket by Aronowitz pulled the Ephs to within two.

With 3:11 remaining, Aronowitz finished at the rim to cut Wesleyan’s lead to 54-53. Flynn fouled out on the next play and, with the Cardinals in the double bonus, Rafferty converted one of two free throws to extend the lead to 55-53 with 2:41 remaining. Both teams failed to score over the next two minutes until Kuo made one of two free throws with 43.5 seconds left to make the score 56-53.

Out of a timeout, Aronowitz got the ball and drove to the basket for an and-one finish. With the game tied at 56 with 25 seconds remaining, Cardinal Head Coach Joe Reilly called timeout to set up the final play, in which Davis would eventually win the game for the Cardinals.

The Ephs shot 8-28, or 28.6 percent, from three on the night, and committed 15 turnovers to Wesleyan’s five. Davis led Wesleyan with 17 points and 8 rebounds on the night. Aronowitz continued his streak of great games with 27 points and 13 rebounds. Forward Kyle Scadlock ’19 finished with 11 points and seven boards.

The men are disappointed in the loss but understand the strength of their play regardless of the final score. “I was really proud of our teams performance this weekend, and our games leading up to now,” Head Coach Kevin App said. “We are disappointed with the result, but understand this is part of the process with this young team.”

Prior to this loss, the men had opened with a five-game win streak. The men won 80-64 against Union last Thursday, 73-54 against Manhattanville on Nov. 29, 80-73 against MCLA on Nov. 24, 69-62 against Mt. St. Vincent on Nov. 21 and 73-62 against Salem State on Nov. 20.

Williams plays against Oneonta State today at 7 p.m. in an away game. Then, on Saturday, the men host Springfield  College at 4 p.m. in the team’s final game of the semester.

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