Breaking away from a 46-46 tie with 10 minutes remaining in the contest, Wesleyan got a go-ahead three-point basket from Derick Beresford '13 with 9:20 left, and the Cardinals never again trailed en route to a 70-65 NESCAC victory over Colby Fri., Feb. 11, in a pivotal NESCAC matchup. The win gave Wesleyan a chance of qualifying for the NESCAC tournament while Colby was eliminated from the post-season. Wesleyan hosted Bowdoin Sat., Feb. 12 in a winner-take-all game for a playoff spot. The loser would be out of contention. Wesleyan rallied from a 16-point second-half deficit to get within a point in the final 20 seconds but Wesleyan's last-second shot for victory just missed and Bowdoin prevailed, 72-71.
After Beresford’s basket gave the Cardinals the lead vs. Colby, a jump hook by Mike Callaghan '13 (#4, photo insert lower left) gave Wesleyan a 51-46 edge. A 10-6 run to the 2:45 mark, triggered by five points from Shasha Brown '13 (#11, main photo), who led Wesleyan with 21 points, made it a 61-52 cushion. Four points on one Colby possession narrowed the margin to 61-56 with 2:16 left, but the Mules never got closer than five down the stretch. The Cardinals scored on five of their final six possessions while the Mules scored on four of six.
Callaghan, with 14 points and 12 caroms, posted a double-double for Wesleyan. Beresford added 10 points for the Cardinals as the three Cardinals in double-digits with Brown.
Wesleyan enjoyed a 10-point lead in the first half, 23-13, after trailing 9-5 early on. The Mules climbed back to make it a 26-22 before Wesleyan assumed a 30-24 halftime lead. The win for Wesleyan was just its 12th in the long-standing series with Colby and avenged a 61-45 loss at Colby last season. Colby has 31 wins in the series.
Bowdoin survived a furious Wesleyan rally in the final 3:22 of their pre-playoff NESCAC matchup to lock up the eighth and final spot in the NESCAC tournament, which starts Sat., Feb. 19. Bowdoin will travel to top-seeded Williams for its playoff opener.
Both teams forged six-point leads in the first half, only to be tied, 31-31, with 2:57 left. Bowdoin then rattled off nine of the final 11 points of the period, to take a 40-33 edge at intermission.
Bowdoin maintained the advantage throughout the second half, leading by as many as 16, 61-45, with 6:52 remaining. The lead stood at 12, 67-55, with 3:30 to go before Wesleyan staged its comeback. Scoring on seven consecutive possessions, the Cardinals whittled the difference to a single point, 72-71, with :18.4 left when Brown sank a three-pointer, giving him a team-high 20 points. After looking for a steal for 10 seconds, Wesleyan fouled but Bowdoin missed both free throws at the :08.5 mark and Matt Callori '13 grabbed the rebound, dishing it off to Brown. Brown dribbled to the top of the key into traffic and dished to an open Beresford in the right corner. His three-point attempt hit the left side of the rim, and bounded past the hoop as the final horn sounded.
It was a 19-7 run by Bowdoin between the 17:20 mark of the second half and the 6:52 mark, which including a string of 10 consecutive point, that carried the visitors to their 16-point lead. Bowdoin pushed a 42-38 lead to 51-40 with 13:11 on the clock. Wesleyan scored five straight to make it 51-45 before 10 in a row by Bowdoin put the game seemingly in its pocket. But Wesleyan cut the difference to 67-64 on a basket by Brown with 1:45 to go. A pair of Polar Bears free throws made it 69-64, but Callaghan (12 points) answered for Wesleyan to make it 69-66 with 1:09 left. Two more Bowdoin free throws made it 71-66. Matt Hogan '13 got a bucket for the Cardinals and was fouled, but missed from the stripe, leaving it 71-68 with :31.6 to go. A one-of-two effort at the line for Bowdoin with :26.3 to go made it 72-68 before Brown hit his third trey of the game, making it a one-point game.
The local Fox affiliate, channel 61, attended the game and aired a clip of the contest Saturday night. To view the segment, click < here >.
Bowdoin avenged an 80-77 overtime loss to Wesleyan in Brunswick, Me., last year and notched its 23rd win in the series to 33 by the Cardinals.
Brown scored double-figures on all but one game this year (Wesleyan won that one game by 29 points) and led the team with a 19.2 scoring average. Ranked second in the NESCAC for scoring, third in assists with 3.75 a game, and tied for sixth in steals with 1.5 a contest, Brown received second-team all-NESCAC honors. A year ago, he was the NESCAC Rookie of the Year. Jason Mendell '12 had his consecutive free-throw string snapped in the Bowdoin game with a miss but ended the year 51-for-56 (91.1 %). On Tues., Feb. 15, WVIT-TV 30 (NBC affiliate in Hartford) aired a story about Shasha Brown, prepared by sports anchor Kevin Nathan. To see the segment, please clock < here >.