Overcoming their first deficit of the game, 49-48, with 11:38 remaining against Mass. College of Liberal Arts in the consolation game of the Catholic U.-Residence Inn Greenbelt Classic Sun., Jan. 1, the Cardinals went on for a 75-68 victory behind the solid play of all-tournament team pick Mike Callaghan '13 (#44, main photo), to improve their record to 10-2 on the year. Shasha Brown '13 bagged a three-pointer with 11:27 left to give Wesleyan the lead for good, 51-49, on his way to a game-high 20 points along with six assists. The Cardinals pushed the lead to 55-49 with the 7-0 run Brown started and extended the gap to eight, 72-64, with 1:11 left on a pair of Brown free throws.
Wesleyan had taken the lead, 16-14, in the first half on a layup by Glen Thomas '14 with 10:44 to go and used a 20-12 run to lead by 10, 36-26, just before halftime, the game's largest margin. The Cardinals continued to hold the advantage until MCLA took its only lead of the second half, 49-48. Callaghan finished with his fifth career double-double, registering 17 points along with a game-high 13 rebounds and was a perfect 7-for-7 at the line. Jason Mendell '12 (#34, photo insert lower left) added 14 points to become the 19th Wesleyan male to surpass 1,000 career points as he now has 1,010. He made two of his three three-point tries, going 7-for-10 over the two games of the tournament.
In the opening round Sat., Dec. 31, Buffalo St., ranked #24 in the latest D3hoops.com poll, ended Wesleyan's seven-game win streak with an 80-77 win. Buffalo St. took on host Catholic, an 85-71 winner over MCLA in its first-round matchup, in the title game Sun., Jan. 1. Buffalo prevailed, 82-81, for the Classic crown.
Mendell and Callaghan led all scorers against Buffalo, netting 19 each for Wesleyan, with Mendell hitting five of seven three-pointers. Wesleyan had a 43-29 edge on the boards as Callaghan had a game-high nine boards. He averaged 18.0 PPG and 11.0 RPG in the Classic.
Buffalo St. used a 15-5 run late in the second half to erase its last deficit, 57-56, with 9:43 to play. The run spotted Buffalo a 71-62 edge, its largest lead of the game, with 3:59 to go. Still Wesleyan whittled away at the margin, eventually cutting it to a single point, 78-77, with :22.5 to go, on a driving layup by Shasha Brown '13, who finished with 11 points. But Buffalo got the ball inbounds and moved up court for a layup for the final basket with :17 left. Wesleyan missed a final three-point attempt just before the buzzer and Buffalo cleared the rebound.
Wesleyan enjoyed its largest lead of the game at eight points early in the second half, holding a 41-33 lead just 1:08 into the period. The greatest margin of the first half was five points, held by Buffalo midway through the period, before Wesleyan assumed a 34-31 halftime edge, outscoring Buffalo, 18-10, over the last 9:21 of the stanza.
Wesleyan opens NESCAC play in its next outing, heading to Amherst Fri., Jan. 6 for a meeting with the #6-ranked Lord Jeffs at 8 p.m. LiveStats will be avaliable and can be viewed by clicking < here >. After that, the Cardinals visit Trinity Sat., Jan. 7 at 4 p.m. LiveStats for that game are available by clicking < here >.
(photos courtesy of SteveMcLaughlinPhotography.com)