Recovering from an 11-point deficit in the opening minute of the second half, Wesleyan came back to knot the score at 50-50 with 12:10 remaining, took the lead for good on a put-back basket by Mike Callaghan '13 (#44, photo insert lower right) with 2:38 to play and went on to post a hard-fought 75-70 victory over visiting Albertus Magnus Thurs., Dec. 2. Though the Cardinals hold a commanding 20-3 edge in the overall series with the Falcons, those three Albertus wins have come in the last six seasons including an 86-74 win in New Haven last season and an 85-83 triumph the last time the squads met in Middletown during the 2008-09 campaign.
Shasha Brown '13 (#11, main photo) led all scorers as he netted 29 for Wesleyan, 19 of those in the second half. Wesleyan led 5-0 at the outset, but 12 straight Falcon points spotted the visitors a 12-5 edge and Albertus maintained the lead until Callaghan scored off an offensive rebound at the 12:10 mark of the second half to even the count at 50-50. Each time Wesleyan cut the lead between three and five points in the opening 28 minutes of the game, Albertus answered back to push the margin back to eight points before extending its lead to a game-high 11 at 42-31 before the second half was a minute old.
After the teams were tied, 50-50, neither squad led by more than three until a pair of Brown free throws with 1:35 to go gave the host a 71-67 advantage. After a pair of Albertus misses, Brown again sank a pair at the line as he went 10-for-11 at the stripe, for a 73-67 margin with 1:18 left. A furious possession that included three offensive rebounds by Albertus resulted in three points for the Falcons, cutting the margin to 73-70 with :59 to go. Albertus failed to score with two more attempts, sandwiching a Wesleyan turnover, and Derick Beresford '13 calmly sank two free throws for Wesleyan with :09.4 to play for the 75-70 final.
Jason Mendell '12 (#34, photo insert upper right) had a double-double for the Cardinals with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Callaghan added 11 points while Dave Maltz '11 was the fourth Cardinal in double-digits with 10 points.
Wesleyan was home again for its next contest Sat., Dec. 4, taking on CCNY. Wesleyan built an early 20-point bulge, saw it whittled to four, but re-extended the margin into the 20s during the second half en route to a 79-59 victory.
The Cardinals stormed out of the gate, making 10 of their first 14 shots while forcing seven CCNY turnovers to produce a commanding 25-5 lead 8:13 into the contest. Callaghan led the way with nine points while Otis Poisson '11 came off the bench to swish a pair of three-pointers to cap the rally. The Beavers responded with a 21-5 run of their own in reducing the difference to 30-26 with just over five minutes remaining in the half. Wesleyan doubled its lead to 43-35 at intermission.
The eight-point gap proved to be the smallest of the second half as Wesleyan pushed out to a 15-point lead (55-40) four minutes into the final period and CCNY got no closer than 11 to rest of the way. Wesleyan came up with its largest advantage at 74-59 with 5:45 to play. The Cardinals got a game-high 21 points from Brown, who added five assists and a pair of steals to his credit. Callaghan finished with 17 points and eight rebounds while Glen Thomas '14 led the squad on the boards with 10 caroms.
This was just the fourth meeting of the teams with the first two dating back over 90 years. Wesleyan and CCNY last met in Middletown in 2006 with CCNY securing an 86-83 overtime win. The series is now tied at 2-2 as Wesleyan won the game played in 1910 and CCNY captured the battle in 1919. Both games were played in New York.
The Cardinals were back on the court Tues., Dec. 7, traveling to Roger Williams. There Brown exploded for 14 second-half points after scoring just two in the opening period, giving him game-high scoring with 16 points in a 62-38 Wesleyan win, the team's fourth in a row. Mendell and Callaghan each added 11 points as the three together combined to match the Hawks' scoring output. Roger Williams was held to just 21 percent shooting on the night, including just 2-of-22 from three-point range. With a 42-31 margin on the boards, the Cardinals were led by Thomas, who had a career-high 12 boards.
While Wesleyan led early on and by as many as 12 in the first half (21-9) before settling for a 25-19 halftime lead. Wesleyan held a tenuous 31-27 advantage with 16:38 to play, but ended the game with a dominating 31-11 streak. Brown had 12 of the 31 points and added seven assists, five rebounds and two steals in the game. Wesleyan now has a 3-2 edge in the five-year series vs. Roger Williams.
Wesleyan will look to extend its winning streak to five games this year when it faces Gordon on the road Thurs., Dec. 9 in a first-ever meeting with the Fighting Scots. Wesleyan's last five-game win streak came during the 2004-05 season. The game at Gordon offers both a webcast and livestats. To access both transmissions, please click here.
(photos courtesy of SteveMcLaughlinPhotography.com)