Cards Build 11-Point 2nd-Half Lead but Succumb to Strong Middlebury Finish, Then Fall in FInal Little 3 Game at Williams
Taking on undefeated and fifth-ranked nationally Middlebury on the road Friday, Jan. 21, Wesleyan stayed right with its powerful host throughout the first half and moved ahead by as many as 11 points in the final 10 minutes of the second period. But a 23-4 flurry by the Panthers over the final nine minutes erased the deficit and gave Middlebury its 14th win of the season, 64-56.
Wesleyan continued its NESCAC weekend with a trip to Williams Sat., Jan. 22, completing the Cardinals' Little Three play for the year. There, Williams seized control with a 14-0 run over a 4:30 stretch in the second half and pulled away for an 82-63 triumph.
Shasha Brown '13 (#11, photo) racked up 16 first-half point at Middlebury while making each of his four three-poiunt attempts to carry Wesleyan to a narrow 29-28 lead at intermission. During the first half, neither team led by more than five points, Middlebury up, 15-10, and Wesleyan ahead, 21-17, representing the largest margins for each squad. Wesleyan never trailed over the opening 15 minutes of the second half and with Derick Beresford '13 helping trigger a 7-0 run with five points, the Cardinals enjoyed the game's largest lead at 11, 52-41, giving the Panthers reason to worry with 8:57 to go. But Middlebury rattled off 13 unanswered points over a span of 3:50 and regained the lead for the first time in more than 17 minutes, 56-54, with 4:21 remaining. The Panthers finished with an 8-2 margin for the eight-point victory.
Brown ended the game with his seventh game this season of more than 20 points as he registered 26 to take game-high honors. No other Cardinal reached double-figures. Leading Wesleyan on the boards with seven rebounds was Mike Callaghan '13.
At Williams, the first half was a mirror image of the Middlebury game as neither team led by more than six points while the count was tied seven times before Williams assumed a 38-34 halftime margin.
Wesleyan held its final lead, 44-43, with 15:04 to go on a Brown layup as he again paced the Cardinals with 16 points. The Ephs exploded for 14 straight points to take a 57-44 advantage with 10:30 left and never led by less than 11 before pulling away for as much as a 23-point edge (77-54, 4:17 remaining). As a result, the Cardinals finished 0-4 in Little Three play and fell to 1-3 in the NESCAC.
Both Beresford and Jason Mendell '12 had 10 points against Williams. Mendell also took rebounding honors for Wesleyan with seven. Brown added five boards and a game-high five assists.
Wesleyan will be home in a non-conference outing Tues., Jan. 25, taking on Manhattanville for just the second time in history and first since 1999-00.