Trailing 26-13 midway through the first half against visiting Little Three rival Williams Fri., Jan. 22 in a NESCAC matchup, Wesleyan went on a 13-3 run with Shasha Brown '13 (#5, photo) scoring 11 of his game-high 20 points during the stretch, to get the Cardinals within three, 29-26. Williams ended the half with a trey to go up 32-26 at intermission.
Wesleyan got as close as 34-32 early in the second stanza, but nine straight points by the Ephs put them ahead, 43-32, and Wesleyan got no closer than six the rest of the way as fifth-ranked Williams defeated Wesleyan for the second time this season, 79-63. The margin was 15 points when the team met in Williamstown back in November.
While Brown led all scorers with his 20 points, Jason Mendell '12 took game-high honors on the boards with nine caroms. Wesleyan out-rebounded Williams by one, 35-34. Both teams took care of the ball relatively well as the Ephs turned the ball over just seven times to nine by the Cardinals. Wesleyan was hurt by its three-point shooting which netted just six treys from 23 attempts. Williams connected on nine of its 19 tries from behind the arc.
Wesleyan did trail just 59-53 with the clock showing 8:30 left to go after Brown scored his final basket of the evening. Williams scored 10 of the next 14 points to up the difference to 12 at 69-57 and finished up the game with a 10-6 run as eight of the Ephs points came at the line.
Wesleyan faced another tall task Sat., Jan. 23 when it closed out its NESCAC weekend by hosting another nationally ranked opponent in Middlebury, which holds the #10 spot on the latest D3Hoops.com poll.
Middlebury met quite a challenge from the homestanding Cardinals. Each time it appeared the Panthers were ready to put Wesleyan away, the Cardinals charged back to keep it close. The teams started out in a tight battle with neither team leading by more than five as Middlebury held leads to 15-10 and 27-22 in the first half. Though Middlebury got a three-pointer for a 30-22 lead with about five minutes to go in the half, Wesleyan got treys from Mike Callaghan '13 and Derick Beresford '13 and a basket from Dave Fogel '13 to knot the count at 30-30 with 2:56 left. Middlebury's reaction was a 10-0 run to halftime for a 40-30 lead.
Wesleyan used the opening 6:30 of the second half to go on a 14-4 run and tie the game once again at 44-44. Fogel, who finished with 10 points, and Callaghan, who had 13, each posted four points during the span. Middlebury never fell behind but felt the pressure from the Cardinals as leads of four to six points couldn't be maintained. Wesleyan closed to 58-57 with 5:25 to go. Two big three-pointers gave the Panthers breathing room at 64-57 with 4:15 left. Wesleyan was unable to cut into the lead as the Panthers finally kept Wesleyan at arm's length to the end.
Brown led Wesleyan with 15 points as freshmen accounted for 52 of the Cardinals' 69 points and 144 of 200 minutes played.
Wesleyan is right back on the court Mon., Jan. 25 with a home game vs. Salve Regina, a team the Cardinals conquered during the Naismith Classic at Springfield earlier in the month.