No. 3 men’s basketball (5–1) fell to Wesleyan 72-67 in overtime on Saturday after opening its season with five straight wins.
In a defensive battle in Chandler Gymnasium, the Cardinals made a few more plays down the stretch to outlast the Ephs in the non-conference matchup.
From the opening tip, Wesleyan set the tone on the defensive end. The Cardinals kept the Ephs off the board for the first three minutes, jumping out to an early 6-0 lead. After a difficult left-handed finish by James Heskett ’19, the Ephs rattled off an 8-0 run to claim the lead.
Both sides shot under 40 percent from the field in the first half, with the Ephs connecting on 12 of 31 shots (38.7 percent) and the Cardinals making 13 of 33 (39.4 percent).
In a game where neither team could claim much momentum, the Ephs had a 30-25 lead with four minutes left in the half. Wesleyan, however, finished the half on a 7-2 run to tie the game at 32 heading into the break.
Despite the Ephs’ size, the Cardinals dominated the boards. Wesleyan won the rebounding battle 27-15 in the half and had a 9-2 edge on the offensive boards.
Wesleyan opened the second half on a 5-0 run to take a 37-32 lead. Yet, as was the case all game, the Cardinals could not create any meaningful separation. Bobby Casey ’19 responded with a personal 5-0 run to tie the game with 15:17 left. At that point, the game seemed destined to go down to the wire. For the remainder of regulation, neither team led by more than four.
With 6:42 remaining, Heskett drilled a 3-pointer from the left corner to give the Ephs a 52-48 lead and a new momentum. After a Wesleyan timeout, however, Jordan Bonner responded with a 3 of his own, silencing the hometown crowd. A few minutes later, co-captain Mike Greenman ’18 hit two free throws to once again extend the men’s lead to four at 57-53. However, the Cardinals dug in on defense and kept the Ephs off the scoreboard for the final four minutes.
With the score tied at 57 and only 34 seconds on the game clock, Wesleyan called timeout to set up a play. Nathan Krill found himself wide open from the left wing with five seconds remaining, but his game-winning attempt caromed off the back rim. Kyle Scadlock ’19 rushed the ball up the court and attempted a 30-foot runner as time expired, but the desperation shot clanked off the front rim.
Overtime brought plenty of excitement as the teams traded the lead back and forth. With 2:45 left, co-captain Chris Galvin ’18 found Scadlock inside on a beautiful backdoor cut for a vicious two-handed slam to put the Ephs on top 62-61.
Wesleyan, however, remained calm and answered on the other end to reclaim the lead.
With under a minute to play and the game tied at 67, Bonner drove to the left. Although he missed his initial attempt, he grabbed the rebound and drew a foul on the put-back effort. Bonner sank both free throws to put the Cardinals up two with 23 seconds left. After a turnover on the other end, the Ephs intentionally fouled Bonner, who sealed the game at the line.
Casey led the Ephs with 17 points on 5-for-7 3-point shooting. Scadlock recorded a double-double, his fourth of the season, with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Bonner finished with 22 points and five rebounds for the victors.
Williams shot 23-for-62 (37.1 percent) from the field and 9-for-33 (27.3 percent) from 3. Additionally, the Ephs made only 12 of 23 free throw attempts, including one of five in overtime.
“It really came down to that 50-50 call at the end,” head coach Kevin App said. “I did think we had too many lapses where we gave too many guys good shots instead of taking away their strengths. It was a close, hard-fought game and it comes down to the little stuff.
“I thought we got the shots we wanted for most of the game,” he said. “We just need to make them, but also anticipate where they are going to come against a better defensive team. We could have done a better job of that on Saturday.”
The men return to action tonight with a road game at Westfield State at 7:30 p.m.