MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – Friday night's NESCAC opener featured another overtime thriller between Little Three archrivals Wesleyan University and Williams College, however, the 11th-ranked Ephs came out on top this time as they overcame a halftime deficit to defeat the 14th-ranked Cardinals, 76-68. The loss is the first for Wesleyan in Silloway Gymnasium this season as it drops to 9-2 overall and 0-1 in league play. Williams is now 10-2 on the year and 1-0 in the conference. It was the second meeting between the two programs this year with the Cardinals claiming a 72-67 win in OT on Dec. 2 in Williamstown, Mass.
In Friday's matchup, Jordan Bonner '19 and Nathan Krill '18 accounted for 48 of Wesleyan's 68 points with Bonner dropping a game-high 28. However, Bobby Casey scored 23 for the Ephs including two clutch three-pointers in overtime which essentially sealed the win for the visitors.
FIRST HALF HIGHLIGHTS:
- The first four possessions of the game resulted in made baskets with the game tied at 5-5 at the 18:42 mark. Wesleyan's hot hand continued as the Cardinals made their first six shots to take a 15-5 lead with 16:41 remaining in the half.
- Williams slowly cut into the deficit and a three-pointer by Cole Teal at the 10:12 mark gave the Ephs their first lead of the game as they went up 20-19.
- Bonner hit another one from deep with 9:12 remaining to put the Cardinals up 25-23, and they would lead the rest of the half.
- With time running out, Krill grabbed an offensive rebound and put up a jumper right before the clock expired to give Wesleyan a 39-32 advantage at the break.
- Bonner had 20 points in the first 20 minutes of play as he went 8-of-16 from the floor and 3-of-6 from downtown. Krill was 3-of-5 from behind-the-arc with 13 points.
SECOND HALF HIGHLIGHTS:
- Wesleyan was in control early in the second and with 15:02 to play in regulation, a basket by Krill gave the home team another double-digit lead as it went up 50-39.
- Williams wouldn't back down, however, and eased its way back as a three from Casey cut the deficit to one, 60-59, at the 6:04 mark.
- Just over a minute later, James Heskett hit another one from downtown to put the visitors on top (62-60) for the first time since the halfway point of the first half.
- Krill evened the score shortly after, but both teams struggled to find a basket in the closing minutes.
- After a missed jumper by Wesleyan, the Ephs regained possession with :25 on the clock and the game tied at 62-62.
- The Cardinals applied heavy pressure defensively, forcing a difficult three by Heskett with :01 on the clock as he just missed to send the game into OT.
- Casey put Williams on top with the first basket of the extra period but seconds later, Jordan Sears '18 made an incredible block and finished it off on the other end with a dunk off a dish from Kevin O'Brien '19 to tie the game at 64-64.
- However, Casey hit one from downtown with 2:09 to play and then again at the 1:05 mark to give the Ephs a 70-64 lead, essentially putting the game away.
- Williams would hit its foul shots down the stretch to seal the victory.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- After a hot start offensively from both teams, the game turned into a defensive battle with Wesleyan shooting 37.5% (27-72) from the floor and Williams finishing 45.5% (25-55). The Cardinals held a slight 40-37 edge in rebounding and outscored the Ephs downbow 26-20.
- Bonner finished with 28 points and nine rebounds. Krill scored 20 with nine rebounds as well, and O'Brien dished out a game-high 10 assists. Sears was a force defensively once again as he led all players with five blocks.
- Casey finished with 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting including 5-of-8 from downtown. He was joined in double-figures by Heskett and Teal with 16 and 11 points, respectively. Michael Kempton led the team with seven rebounds and Mike Greenman dished out a team-high five assists.
- Wesleyan returns to Silloway Gym tomorrow for another difficult NESCAC matchup as the Cardinals host No. 4 Middlebury. Tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m.