Cardinals Reach Second Tournament Finals This Season After Downing Green Mountain, 80-59
With Jeremy Kaminer '10 (#11, photo insert lower left) contributing 17 points in just 19 minutes on the floor and both Dave Maltz '11 (#22, main photo) and Shasha Brown '13 (#5, photo insert upper left) chipping in with 13 points apiece, Wesleyan made short work of Green Mountain in the opening round of the Hockenbury Classic hosted by Norwich Sat., Dec. 5, 80-59. With the triumph, the Cardinals earned a date with the host in the tournament finals Sun., Dec. 6. When Wesleyan and Norwich last met, it was the finals of the Hockenbury Classic in 2003 and the Cadets pulled out a 67-66 win.
This time, Norwich prevailed again, 73-65, in a game of streaks. For the second time this year, Shasha Brown was honored in tournament play. After being named MVP of Wesleyan's Tip-Off tournament back in November, Brown was an all-tournament team pick at the Hockenbury Classic.
Wesleyan scored the opening 10 points of the second-ever meeting with Green Mountain, as the teams faced each other in the first round of the Hockenbury Classic back in 2003 as well. Kaminer had seven of the first 10 Cardinal points. With Derick Beresford '13 adding three treys in the early going, Wesleyan built a 30-10 lead after 12 minutes and went into halftime with a 40-21 margin.
The lead grew as large as 25 in the second half (80-55 in the final minute) as Wesleyan never let Green Mountain get closer than 16 points over the last 20 minutes of play.
Wesleyan got excellent play on the boards from Jason Mendell '12 as he grabbed a team-leading 12 rebounds, nine of them on the defensive glass.
In the title game, the Cadets bolted to a 17-4 lead and pushed the gap to as many as 18 (35-17), but Wesleyan scored the final 10 points of the period to cut the margin to six (37-31), then scored the opening eight points of the second stanza to take a 39-37 lead. Norwich connected for a three-pointer to take the lead for good as it ignited a 10-0 Cadet run for a 47-39 gap with 11:30 to play. The Cardinals got as close at 63-60 with 3:50 left thanks to six points from Shasha Brown and four from Mike Callaghan '13. Brown closed out the game with 21 points, giving him 34 in the tournament. He also had five rebounds, three assists and a steal in the championship game.
Norwich clamped down defensively and held Wesleyan scoreless for the next three minutes while upping the difference to nine at 69-60, and wrapped up the 73-65 victory.
Mendell broke out of a three-game scoring slump to net 18, more points than he had produced over the last three games combined. He also had eight rebounds, giving him 20 in the tournament.
After four game away from Silloway Gym, the Cardinals happily return to their home court for their next outing Tues., Dec. 8 against Roger Williams.