Wesleyan Rallies from Halftime Deficit to Defeat No. 5 Amherst, 73-59

Photo by Alex Serbetzian
Photo by Alex Serbetzian

THE BASICS:

Score: Wesleyan 73, Amherst 59
Records:
Wesleyan (12-3, 1-2 NESCAC); No. 5 Amherst (10-3, 1-1 NESCAC)
Location: Middletown, Conn.
Date: Friday, January 13
Time: 7 p.m.
The Lead: Trailing by nine at halftime, the Wesleyan University men's basketball team went on an incredible 25-6 run to open the second half as the Cardinals rallied to defeat Little Three rival and No. 5 Amherst College, 73-59. Friday night's game counted towards the NESCAC standings, as Wesleyan earned its second win against a top-5 opponent this season.

FIRST HALF HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The first half featured a game of runs, but Amherst controlled the boards and pulled in 11 offensive rebounds to help secure a halftime lead.
  • The Purple & White jumped out to a 10-2 advantage in the first 2:26 of play, following a three-pointer from Jayde Dawson.
  • Wesleyan, however, responded with a run of its own and scored 11 of the next 12 points as a lay-up by Kevin O'Brien '19 knotted the game at 11-11 and a jumper by JR Bascom '18 put the Cardinals ahead.
  • The lead was short-lived though as Amherst scored 10 unanswered to take an eight point lead with 9:03 to play in the half.
  • Wesleyan would get within one with 5:45 remaining after an 8-0 stretch of its own, but a lay-up by Eric Conklin with :33 on the clock gave the visitor's a 32-23 lead at the break.

SECOND HALF HIGHLIGHTS:

  • A three-pointer by Jeff Racy in the opening seconds of the second half gave Amherst a double-digit lead, up 35-23.
  • However, a lay-up by Salim Green '19 jumpstarted the Cardinals' huge run.
  • With 12:47 to play in regulation, Nathan Krill '18 put Wesleyan within one on an impressive one-handed wrap-around dunk, and then hit a three-pointer just 28 seconds later to give the Cardinals a 44-41 advantage.
  • It was the home team's first lead since the 11:30 mark in the first half, and Wesleyan would never look back.
  • A lay-up by Green and a three from Andrew Gardiner '19 capped off the 21-6 run as Wesleyan went ahead, 48-41 with 10:50 to play.
  • Minutes later, an 8-0 run by the Cardinals put them up by 16 with 6:21 on the clock.
  • Amherst would cut the deficit to eight on a lay-up by Conklin with 4:06 remaining, but it proved to be the closest the visitor's would get the rest of the way as Wesleyan outscored its Little Three rival 11-5 down the stretch en route to the win.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS:

  • O'Brien led all players in scoring with 19 points, while Joseph Kuo '17 joined him in double-figures with 14 and Green added 11. O'Brien also pulled in nine rebounds, dished out four assists, recorded four steals and blocked two shots. Jordan Sears '18 was also instrumental in the win as he set career-highs in rebounds (10) and blocks (6).
  • Three players scored in double-figures for Amherst as Dawson led the way with 17 points. Racy added 11 and Michael Riopel scored 10, while David George pulled in a team-high eight rebounds and blocked three shots.
  • Wesleyan held a 45-39 edge in rebounding and outscored Amherst in the paint, 40-22. The Cardinals also outscored Amherst in the second half, 50-27.

BEYOND THE BOX SCORE:

  • Wesleyan has now won two straight against Amherst, and three of the last four meetings.
  • Tonight's win was the Cardinals' second against a top-5 ranked team this season, both by double-digits. Earlier in the year, Wesleyan defeated No. 4 Marietta, 81-65.

HEAD COACH JOE REILLY:

  • "I'm really proud of our guys and their response after a tough weekend last week on the road. We made some great hustle plays, especially early in the second half, that really helped swing the momentum of the game. Our immediate attention is now on Trinity, another great NESCAC matchup."

UP NEXT:

  • The Cardinals return to Silloway Gymnasium tomorrow, Jan. 14 and will host in-state rival Trinity. Tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m.
  • Amherst remains in Connecticut and will face Conn. College tomorrow at 3 p.m.

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