Wesleyan Falls Short in First Round of NCAA Tournament to Union, 89-83

Photo courtesy of Rochester Athletics
Photo courtesy of Rochester Athletics

THE BASICS:

Score: Union 89, Wesleyan 83
Records:
Wesleyan (19-7); Union (17-10)
Location: Rochester, N.Y. (University of Rochester)
Date: Friday, March 3
Time: 5:30 p.m.
The Lead: Senior Harry Rafferty scored 20 of his 24 points in the second half, but the Wesleyan University men's basketball team was unable to overcome a first half deficit as the Cardinals lost to Union College in the First Round of the 2017 NCAA Division III Championships Friday night, 89-83.

FIRST HALF HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The Dutchmen held a lead for much of the first half.
  • After back-to-back three-pointers from Kevin Weckworth, Union went up 18-10 with 9:41 to play.
  • Wesleyan, however, slowly cut into the lead. After a trey from Salim Green '19 at the 7:21 mark, Jordan Bonner '19 followed up seconds later with another jumper from behind-the-arc to cut the deficit to one, 23-22.
  • The Cardinals would go ahead 26-25 shortly after following a pair of free throws from JR Bascom '18. The lead was short-lived though as Union answered with a pair of free throws from Greg King, and never looked back.
  • The Dutchmen pulled away down the stretch and took a 10-point advantage at the 1:07 mark following a jumper from Wade McNamara. They would go on to lead 43-33 at halftime behind 17 points from Deshon Burgess.

SECOND HALF HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The Cardinals faced a huge deficit early in the second half as they fell behind by 14, but Wesleyan went on a run and a three-pointer on a fast break by Rafferty cut the lead to four, while forcing a Union timeout with 14:15 to play. Bascom would then get the Cardinals within two to cap off the 11-2 run.
  • Union responded and went up by six to temporarily slow down Wesleyan's momentum, but a pair of foul shots from Bonner followed by a three from Green cut the Dutchmen's lead to 57-56.
  • Wesleyan, however, would get within one numerous times in the half but was unable to pull ahead.
  • With 3:23 remaining in regulation, a lay-up by Matt Liquori capped off a 6-0 run by Union to put the Dutchmen up 79-70, which inevitably sealed the win.
  • Rafferty hit a couple threes shortly after to keep the Cardinals in the game, and a pair of free throws by Bonner with :24 on the clock cut the deficit to three.
  • However, Union went 5-of-6 from the line down the stretch en route to the win.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS:

  • Rafferty scored 20 points in 17 minutes of the second half, and fell two points shy of tying his career-high of 26. He was joined in double-figures by Bonner (19), Bascom (14) and Green (13). The 14 points tied a career-high for Bascom, while Bonner added nine boards to lead Wesleyan. Kevin O'Brien'19 dished out a team-high four assists and pulled in six boards.
  • Union was led by Burgess, who dropped 30 points on 9-of-17 shooting. He also recorded a game-high six assists, and was a perfect 11-of-11 from the charity stripe. Greg King added 20 points, while Wade McNamara recorded a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, and Weckworth scored 15.
  • The Dutchmen shot 51.0% (26-51) from the floor and 85.7% (30-35) from the foul line. Wesleyan hit 11-of-30 three-point attempts (36.7%) and also shot 85.7% (18-21) from the charity stripe. The Cardinals held a 41-30 edge in rebounding.

BEYOND THE BOX SCORE:

  • Despite the loss, the 2017 season was another historic one for the Cardinals, as they have now advanced to NCAA Tournament twice in the past three seasons.
  • Wesleyan also claimed a Little Three title outright this season, and earned the No. 4 seed in the ultra-competitive NESCAC Championships.
  • Rafferty concludes his collegiate career with 1,129 points to rank tied for 11th in the Wesleyan men's basketball record books alongside Tobin Anderson '95.

UP NEXT:

  • The loss marks the end of the 2017 season for the Cardinals. Union will play in the second round tomorrow night at 7 p.m. The Dutchmen will face the winner of Rochester and Albertus Magnus.

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