Cards Seeded 8th in NESCAC Playoffs with Split of Games in Maine, Beating Bowdoin, Loss to Colby
The Cardinals earned a hard-fought 80-77 overtime win at Bowdoin Fri., Feb. 12 and followed it with a 61-45 setback to Colby Sat., Feb. 13 to finish the regular season with an 11-13 mark and a 3-6 NESCAC record. Tied with Amherst and Trinity in sixth place in the final NESCAC standings, Wesleyan is the eighth seed in the NESCAC tournament having lost to both the Lord Jeffs and Bantams during the year. Wesleyan traveled to top-seeded and second-ranked nationally Williams (23-1) for a first-round game Sat., Feb. 20. Williams defeated Wesleyan twice during the regular season (106-91 in Williamstown and 79-63 in Middletown).
In the Cards' first appearance in the post-season since the 2004-05 campaign, Wesleyan gave Williams a battle into the second half, holding a 36-35 lead 1:10 into the second period, but Williams went on a 15-2 run to pull ahead 50-38 with 13:29 to go and never let Wesleyan get closer than 10 the rest of the way on its way to a 77-62 victory. The loss ended the Cardinals' season at 11-14. Shasha Brown '13 (#5, left side of photo) led the team at Williams with 21 points, was the individual scoring leader for the Cards in 15 of their 25 games and had a team-best 17.8 scoring average.
Wesleyan did battle back late in the game after finding itself down by as many as 21 (67-46) with 7:42 left. The Cardinals used a 16-5 run of their own to make it 72-62 with 2:28 to go. But the Ephs stemmed the tide and pushed the margin up into the teens for the final score.
A week earlier in Brunswick, the Cardinals darted ahead 25-13 after 12:30 of action but the Polar Bears decreased the gap to just four at intermission, 38-34, and took their first lead 4:08 into the second half, 42-40. From that point, neither team led by more than five while the score was tied seven times. The Cardinals recovered from their largest deficit at 65-60 with less than five minutes to go to even the count at 69-69 on Brown's layup with 1:08 to go. Bowdoin then came up empty on its scoring bid, leaving Wesleyan with the last try in regulation. The Cards also missed the mark and the teams entered an extra period.
Brown gave Wesleyan the lead for good with a layup in the opening minute and Dave Maltz '11 (#22, middle photo) netted the next two baskets to give Wesleyan a 75-69 bulge with 2:12 left. Bowdoin eventually cut it to 79-77 with just 14 seconds left. Brown went to the line and made one of two (he was 9-for-10 at the line including 5-for-6 in OT en route to a game-high 24 points) for an 80-77 lead. Bowdoin got off a long three-point try from the right side but it came up well short of the basket and time ran out before Bowdoin could make another attempt.
Maltz finished the game with 10 points as one of five Cardinals in double-digits. Derick Beresford '13 (#3, right side photo) chipped in with 17 while Jason Mendell '12 had 12 and Mike Callaghan '13 added 10. Mendell and Callaghan combined for 17 of Wesleyan's 33 rebounds while Brown also had four assists and three steals.
At Waterville, Colby ended the first half with a 12-4 run to turn a tight 19-18 lead into a 31-22 cushion at the break. The Mules did not falter a bit in the second half, never allowing the Cardinals, who were led by Callaghan with 11 points, to get any momentum. The lead remained between eight a 14 points throughout the second period until a final push by Colby made it an 18-point lead just before the final margin of 16. Colby used its 43-25 advantage on the boards to control the game despite 20 turnovers to Wesleyan's 13. The Cardinals were held to by far their poorest shooting game of the season at just 25.5 percent. Prior to the game, the 33.8 percent effort in a setback to Amherst had been the team's weakest performance.