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Cards Open 2009 With First-Round Victory over Wheelock During Inn at Middletown Tourney

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Otis Poisson '11 (#24, photo insert lower right) netted a career-high 14 points while leading the team with four three-pointers, to help the Cardinals move past Wheelock in a first-round game of the Inn at Middletown Tournament hosted by Wesleyan Fri., Jan 2. Wesleyan faced Daniel Webster, a 78-57 victor over Anna Maria in its first-round matchup, in the championship game Sat., Jan. 3. Despite a valiant rally that reduced a 19-point deficit to just four late in the game, Wesleyan could not pull out the triumph as Daniel Webster won the title with a 69-62 decision.

While Dave Maltz '11 paced the Cards in scoring with 18 points against Wheelock while posting his third double-double of the season by adding a team-high 11 rebounds, Poisson came off the bench to add his 14 points in 19 minutes of action. His three-pointer with 3:50 remaining was a key to stopping a rally by the Wildcats after the Cardinals had assumed the first double-digit lead of the contest with 14:22 to go. Michael Battle '11 hit a trey at that time to put Wesleyan up, 48-37.

Wesleyan pushed the margin to 16 at 59-43 with eight minutes left but Wheelock scored 11 straight points to make it a 59-54 game at the 5:30 mark. Eight of the next 10 points belonged to the Cardinals with Poisson capping the surge to make it 67-56 and the Wildcats got no closer than seven down the stretch.

Poisson, who was used sparingly as a freshman, came into the game having scored a total of 14 points in his previous 48 minutes of action over 15 appearances. He doubled his production following the victory over Wheelock in the first-ever meeting between the teams.

Also facing Daniel Webster for the first time ever, the teams came away from the opening 20 minutes deadlocked at 32-32. Jason Mendell '12 (main photo) netted 14 of his career-high 23 points during the first half. He was Wesleyan's representative on the five-member all-tournament team.

The Eagles scored the opening 15 points of the second half, putting the Cardinals in a big hole. The lead reached 55-36 with 12 minutes left before Wesleyan ignited for a 22-7 run that narrowed the margin to 62-58 with 4:35 left. But the Cards could get no closer as the Eagles edged away for the seven-point victory. Mendell was a perfect 7-for-7 from the field in the first half and finished the game 10-for-12. 

Stan Grayson '09 was the only other Cardinal in double-figures vs. DWC with 10 points. He and Gabe Gonzalez-Kreisberg '09 both gave the squad a solid effort against Wheelock with 16 points and 10 points, respectively. Kreisberg added 14 boards over the two games while Grayson was his usual accurate self, connecting on 12-of-18 field goals during the tournament. He leads the team with a 65.8 shooting percentage from the floor, which is tops in the NESCAC and seventh nationally in Division III.

Next up for the squad is a Little Three game vs. Amherst at home Tues., Jan. 6. Amherst comes in undefeated and ranked fifth in the country in Division III.