Pulling away from a 54-54 tie with 9:18 remaining in their game at home vs. Fisher Wed., Dec. 3, the Cardinals went on for a 79-71 win, their first of the year and the first for new head coach Joe Reilly (main photo). Reilly came to Wesleyan with 154 wins as the head coach at NESCAC rival Bates College.
Dave Maltz '11 (#22, photo insert upper left) put Wesleyan ahead for good with an inside basket at the nine-minute mark and added another basket 25 seconds later to finish off his second straight double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. His second bucket completed a streak of eight consecutive made hoops by Wesleyan over a span of 3:30, giving the squad a 58-54 edge after trailing for the first time, 43-42.
Jason Mendell '12 (#34, photo insert lower left) and Jeremy Kaminer '10 (#11, photo insert upper right) then combined for the next 13 Wesleyan points as Kaminer, who had 19 in the game, had 10 and Mendell, who led the team with 22 points, contributed three in building the Cardinals' advantage to 71-62 with 3:05 to play. Mendell added four more free throws in the final minute to help seal the win.
Wesleyan had two other player in double digits as Stan Grayson '09 netted 10, eight of them in a span of about two minutes while Wesleyan was regaining the lead midway through the second half. Giving the squad another 11 points was Matt Figueroa '12.
The team hit the road for its next game Sat., Dec. 6, taking on Roger Williams in Bristol, R.I. Wesleyan found itself trailing by 22 with 17 minutes left in the contest, 48-26. The Cardinals came to life as Mendell poured in a season-high 21 points while Grayson added 19 in the comeback effort. When Mendell hit a three-pointer with 1:20 remaining, Wesleyan evened the score at 63-63. But a basket by Roger Williams at the :53 mark, and five missed field goals by the Cardinals in the final minute helped the home team pull out a 68-65 win.
Maltz was a demon on the boards for the Cardinals with 19 rebounds, the most by a Cardinal in five years.
Wesleyan closed out the first semester's action at home Tues., Dec. 9 when Endicott came to town for a first-ever meeting with the Cardinals. Wesleyan led by as many as 10 points in the first half, then used an 8-2 start to the second half to gain a 36-24 edge and led by no less than nine the rest of the way en route to a 75-52 triumph. Mendell led the team in scoring for the third straight game with 18. Kaminer had nine points, six assists and three steals. Gabe Gonzalez-Kreisberg '09 took game honors on the boards with 11.
The Cardinals will be back on the court Fri., Jan. 2 as host for the Inn at Middletown Tournament with Wheelock as the opposition. Anna Maria faces Daniel Webster in the other first-round matchup.