Cardinals Win in Overtime Thriller
The Wesleyan men’s basketball team came back to campus in style for the spring semester, battling Manhattanville College to an exciting 80-75 overtime victory at Silloway Gymnasium. Although the Cardinals entered the game on a cold streak that put the team’s postseason aspirations on hold, this statement win has helped to stop the bleeding, with the NESCAC tournament looming on the horizon.
The Cardinal men came out firing on all cylinders, pulling away with a double-digit lead with 10:17 remaining in the first. The Cardinals continued to pour it on, building a formidable 37-23 lead with just 5:09 remaining in the first half. That, however, turned out to be Wesleyan’s largest lead all night, as Manhattanville came roaring back, scoring 14 consecutive points to knot the score at 37-37 heading into halftime.
Wesleyan continued to appear overmatched coming out of the break, allowing the opponents to open the second half with a 14-2 run. The sum damage was a preposterous 28-2 run over 11:24 of game time, turning a 14-point lead into a 12-point deficit for Wesleyan with 13:45 remaining in the game.
Still, the Cardinals refused to let the game slip from their grasp, slowly chipping away at the deficit to get within three with 7:32 left. But Manhattanville would not roll over easily, extending their lead back to eight with just 3:44 on the clock. Coach Joe Reilly then rallied his team during a timeout, and the Cardinals responded with a 10-2 run to end the second half with a tie score of 66-66. Wesleyan did not trail in the overtime period, slowly but surely building a five-point lead that would be the difference in the contest.
In the face of this adversity on the court, Wesleyan’s response was to excel where it had previously struggled. While the Cardinals were shooting at a lower percentage than their season average and giving up more baskets than usual, the team shored up weaknesses that had cost them games in the past. The Cardinals had been struggling on the boards in recent games, but bullied Manhattanville on the glass for a 43-30 edge in rebounding. Although Wesleyan had not been a poor free throw shooting team in the past, with a .720 percentage from the line, the Cardinals won this game from the charity stripe with a superb 24-26 on free throws. The Cardinal offense was bolstered further by a balanced scoring attack. Shasha Brown ’13 led the team with 18 points, followed by forwards Matt Hogan ’13 and Mike Callaghan ’13 with 14 apiece, co-captain Jason Mendell ’12 with 12, and guard Derick Beresford ’13 with 10.
Wesleyan will hit the road for two NESCAC games this weekend, heading north to face Bates on Jan. 28 and Tufts on Jan. 29.