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Late Rally Comes up Short as Wesleyan Falls to No. 11 Amherst, 63-56

Photo by Geoff Bolte, Clarus Studios
Photo by Geoff Bolte, Clarus Studios

AMHERST, Mass. – The Wesleyan University men's basketball team rallied late in the second half Saturday but came up short against No. 11 Amherst College on the road in NESCAC Quarterfinal action, 63-56.

Jordan Bonner led the Cardinals with 18 points and a game-high 13 rebounds as they fell to 16-9 overall. Wesleyan now awaits its NCAA Tournament fate when the selection show airs Monday, Feb. 25 at 12:30 p.m. on NCAA.com. Fru Che led the Mammoths to victory with 30 points on 11-of-18 shooting as Amherst improved to 21-4 overall. The Mammoths advance to the NESCAC Semifinals next Saturday, Feb. 23 with an opponent to be determined.

FIRST HALF HIGHLIGHTS:

  • It was a defensive battle early on.
  • Bonner made the first basket of the game at the 18:33 mark but Amherst responded with an 11-0 run capped off by a jumper from Che five minutes later.
  • The Cardinals cut into the deficit and with 7:30 to play, a 3-pointer by Sam Peek put Wesleyan on top 15-13.
  • Bonner extended the lead to four following an impressive tip-in but Che answered with a three, and a fadeaway jumper, to regain an Amherst advantage, 18-17.
  • The game went back-and-forth in the final minutes with both teams struggling to get much going offensively as Wesleyan entered the break with a 23-22 lead.
  • The Cardinals held Amherst without a field goal for the final 5:52 of the half.
  • Che led the Mammoths in the first 20 minutes with 16 points and Bonner had 11 for Wesleyan.

SECOND HALF HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Amherst came out hot to start the second half and scored the first 12 points to take a 34-23 lead at the 17:04 mark.
  • Shortly after, Wesleyan cut the deficit to seven with back-to-back baskets from Bonner and Joe DeLollo, respectively,
  • Ahead by nine, a 3-pointer by Grant Robinson followed by a layup from Che gave the Mammoths their largest lead of the game, up 47-33 with 11:28 to play.
  • With 6:55 remaining, JR Bascom converted a 3-point play to get Wesleyan within single digits as the visitors trailed by nine.
  • After some back-and-forth action down the stretch, Jordan James grabbed an offensive rebound and dished it out to Antone Walker for a deep 3-pointer to make it a six-point game with 1:48 on the clock.
  • Seconds later, Hutcherson knocked down a pair of free throws as the Cardinals trailed 58-54 with 1:11 to play.
  • The four-point margin would be the closest Wesleyan would get the rest of the way, however, as the Mammoths locked down on defense and sealed the win at the free throw line.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS:

  • Bonner was joined in double-figures by Hutcherson who scored 10 points and dished out a game-high five assists. Bascom secured 12 rebounds off the bench, and Walker scored nine points and blocked two shots.
  • Robinson finished with 14 points for Amherst and Eric Sellew scored nine with a team-high 11 rebounds. He also had three steals, three blocks, and two assists.
  • Both teams shot poorly in yet another defensive battle between the Little Three archrivals this season. Wesleyan finished 22-67 from the floor and the Mammoths went 21-63.
  • The Cardinals held a slight 44-40 edge in rebounding and outscored the Amherst bench, 14-6.