Behind the 29-point performance of tournament MVP Shasha Brown'13 (#5, main photo), Wesleyan overcame a 61-57 deficit midway through the second half with a 19-7 run over a span of six minutes to gain control and go on for a 95-85 victory over Becker in the championship game of the Inn at Middletown Tip-Off Tournament hosted by Wesleyan Sat., Nov. 21.
In just his second collegiate game, Brown went 9-for-18 from the field and 10-for-15 at the line in racking up his game-high point total for Wesleyan. His second-chance basket at the 11:50 mark put the Cardinals ahead for good, 64-63, in their first ever meeting with the Hawks. Wesleyan pushed the margin to 76-68 with 7:18 to play on Jason Mendell's '12 (#34, photo insert lower right) basket as he finished the game with 17 points, a team-high eight rebounds and was named to the all-tournament team. Wesleyan did not let Becker get closer than five the remainder of the contest.
Wesleyan led by as many as 11 in the first half, 34-23 with 3:23 left in the period, and carried a 41-32 lead at halftime. Over the opening 6:48 of the second half, Becker scored almost as many points over the stretch as it did the entire first half with a 29-16 burst, turning the nine-point shortfall into its biggest lead at four points. But with Otis Poisson '11 and Dave Maltz '11 each tossing in five points and Brown adding four, Wesleyan forged ahead for the rest of the contest. Maltz finished with 13 points and seven boards. Derick Beresford '13 added 17 for the winners, who stand 2-0 for the first time since the 2001-02 campaign.
Wesleyan headed to Williams for a non-NESCAC but still ever-important Little Three matchup with the Ephs Tues., Nov. 24 for its last outing before Thanksgiving. The Cardinals got a game-high 35 points from Brown and led briefly in the first half, 15-14, but Williams broke a 20-20 tie eight minutes into the period to take the lead for good en route to a high-scoring 106-91 win. Wesleyan trailed in the 5-10 point range much of the game before the Ephs stretched the margin just a bit in the final six minutes. The 91 points by Wesleyan was the most vs. Williams since March 1, 1986 when Wesleyan posted a 91-84 victory. Beresford was the only other Cardinal in double-digts vs. Williams with 14. Brown also had five assists and three steals on the night.
After a nine-day layoff, Wesleyan resumed action Thurs., Dec. 3 with a contest at Albertus Magnus. There the Cardinals fell by an 86-74 score. Albertus used an 8-0 run in the first half to turn a 24-24 tie into a 32-24 lead for the host. The lead was 41-30 at halftime and reached as high as 15 in the second half. But Wesleyan got four treys off the bench by Otis Poisson '11, three in the second period, and a team-high 17 points from Brown as Wesleyan narrowed the gap to 70-65 with less than five minutes to go. But that was as close as the visitors got and AMC pushed the margin back to double digits.
Wesleyan will be on the road to Northfield, Vt. to take part in a tournament hosted by Norwich. The Cards take on Green Mountain in a first-round contest Sat., Dec. 5. The consolation and championship game are slated for Sun., Dec. 6. Norwich meets St. Joseph's (VT) in the other first-round game.
(Photos by SteveMcLaughlinPhotography.com)