MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – The No. 15-ranked Wesleyan University men's basketball team cut a 21-point, second-half deficit to three midway through the final half on Saturday evening, but No. 14 Swarthmore was able to regroup and claimed a 97-75 victory in the second round of the NCAA Division III Tournament at Silloway Gymnasium.
Junior guard Cam Wiley led the Garnet with game highs of 27 points, eight assists and eight rebounds, while junior guard Jordan Bonner poured in 26 points on 11-of-23 shooting for Wesleyan.
The Cardinals (22-7) posted an incredible 2017-18 campaign, which featured the program's first-ever NCAA Tournament victory with a 101-71 triumph over Southern Vermont in the first round on Friday. The 22 wins are the most in a single season for the program, as the group hosted its first-ever NCAA event. The unit was anchored by three outstanding senior captains in Jordan Sears, Nathan Krill and JR Bascom.
The Garnet (24-5) will compete in the Sweet 16 against No. 16 Plattsburgh State with date and game time to be determined.
FIRST HALF HIGHLIGHTS:
- The Garnet stormed out to an early 7-0 lead on a made layup by sophomore forward Zac O'Dell one minute, 47 seconds, into the game.
- The Cardinals answered back by scoring 10 of the next 13 points, and freshman guard Austin Hutcherson buried a 3-point shot to end the run with 15:50 left in the half, knotting the game at 10-10.
- The hosts took their first and only lead of the game with 13:16 left at 15-14 on a mid-range jumper by freshman guard Antone Walker.
- Swarthmore ended the half on a 38-19 run, and during that push it took a double-digit lead at 31-20 on a jumper by Wiley.
- The visitors' lead ballooned up to 18 at halftime, as senior guard Jim Lammers found the bottom of the net on a contested 3-point shot from the right of the arc with 30 seconds remaining, giving the unit a 52-34 lead.
SECOND HALF HIGHLIGHTS:
- Wesleyan opened the second half on a 26-11 run, which included a highlight-reel dunk by Sears, as he flew down the right lane and converted an alley-oop pass by Bonner, cutting the deficit to 63-54.
- The run ended on a 3-pointer by Bonner with 11:49 remaining, bringing the Cardinals to within 63-60, which was the closest they would come in the second half.
- The Garnet extended their lead back to double figures on a shot from beyond the arc by freshman guard Conor Harkins with 9:33 showing, giving the visitors a 71-61 advantage.
- Swarthmore kept coming and blew the game open with a layup by senior guard Zack Yonda with 5:27 left, which gave the squad an 82-61 lead and ended a 16-0 spurt.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- Hutcherson (13 points) and Bascom (10 points, team-high seven rebounds) finished in double figures for Wesleyan, while O'Dell (18 points) and sophomore forward Nate Shafer (16 points) finished with eight rebounds apiece, and Shafer denied a game-best five shots for Swarthmore.
- Swarthmore, which put five players in double figures, shot 50 percent from the field (32-for-64), 46.2 percent from downtown (12-for-26) and 95.5 percent from the line (21-for-22).
- Wesleyan went 27-for-68 from the floor (39.7 percent), 9-of-25 on the three-ball (36.0 percent) and 12-for-14 at the free-throw line (85.7 percent).
- The Garnet claimed a 44-29 advantage on the boards, including a 34-21 edge on the defensive glass.