Shasha Brown '13 Scores Deciding Points to Propel Men's Basketball Past Amherst & Tufts in One-Point Wins
Shasha Brown '13 (#11, shooting free throw) went 11-for-12 at the free throw line including a pair with :02.2 remaining to lift Wesleyan past its Little Three rival Amherst, 68-67, Tues., Jan. 17 in a non-conference game. The teams had played 11 days earlier in a NESCAC game in Amherst with the Lord Jeffs, ranked fourth nationally in Division III, prevailing, 66-64. Combined with their 66-43 victory over Williams College four days ago, the Cardinals knocked off both their Little Three rivals in the same year for the first time since the 2000-01 campaign. Three days later, Brown connected for the winning basket at the buzzer to get the Cardinals past Tufts Fri., Jan. 20, 58-57, in a conference tilt. To see Brown's buzzer-beater against the Jumbos, click < here >. His play has been nominated for ECAC Play of the Week. Fan vote determines the winner. Those interested can vote by clicking < here >.
Against Amherst, Wesleyan took a 32-31 lead on a basket by Mike Callaghan '13 (#44, photo insert lower left) 20 seconds into the second half and led throughout the period, and by as many as six points (42-36) before Amherst assumed its first lead of the period with :07.4 to go on a pair of free throws. But 5.2 seconds later, Brown was fouled driving to the hole. He had missed his only shot from the line on the day with :22.7 left and the Cardinals leading, 66-65, but he made made amends with the winning points. Amherst inbounded the basket deep in its own end and launched a desperate try from near the midcourt line that missed the mark as time expired.
Callaghan led all scorers in the game with a career-high 24 points as he also paced the Cardinals with five rebounds. Brown finished with 19 points and seven assists. Amherst had tied the game on a trey with :54 to go, 63-63, before Callaghan responded with his only three-pointer in the game on his only try with :40 to go, putting the Cardinals ahead, 66-63. An Amherst basket cut the difference to 66-65 at the :30 mark.
Amherst built as much as a 10-point cushion during the first half, getting out to a 20-10 lead with 9:38 remaining in the period, but the Cardinals went on a 20-9 run to take their first lead of the contest since holding a 2-0 margin on Brown's opening basket. A Brown basket with 1:21 to go in the period spotted Wesleyan a 30-29 lead before Amherst ended the scoring of the half for a 31-30 Amherst margin. It was Amherst's last lead before the closing 10 seconds of the game.
Wesleyan was a solid 20-for-24 at the line on the evening, countering the 11-for-23 effort by the Lord Jeffs from three-point range. Wesleyan went 6-for-10 from long range as Derick Beresford '13 was 3-for-5 and Jason Mendell '12 hit both his attempts. Amherst was 12-for-18 from the stripe.
Facing Tufts Jan. 20, Brown made it two straight games with the deciding points as his drive from end-to-end with :05.1 to go resulted in a soft jumper from the lane at the buzzer that danced on the rim and fell through as the horn sounded to give the Cardinals a 58-57 triumph. Wesleyan improved to 14-4 on the year, 3-2 in conference play while Tufts dipped to 11-5 overall, 3-2 in the NESCAC. Wesleyan then hosted Bates Sat., Jan. 21 to conclude the NESCAC weekend and the Bobcats pulled away in the second half and went on to claim a 77-60 victory, making Wesleyan 14-5 overall, 3-3 in the NESCAC.
Brown finished the game vs. Tufts with a game-high 17 points, going 7-for-10 from the field. After Tufts made a pair of free throws with :05.1 left to assume a 57-56 lead, Brown received the inbounds pass under his own basket and raced up court before launching his game-winner from eight feet out.
Other than a brief 6-0 lead by Wesleyan to start the game, which Tufts quickly erased behind an 11-2 run to take an 11-8 lead with 14:43 to go in the first half, neither team led by more than four points over the final 37 minutes of the game. Tufts last led by four at 31-27 with 17:35 remaining while Wesleyan forged a 46-42 edge with 9:41 to play, then held leads of 54-50 and 56-52, the last coming with 1:17 on the clock on a drive by Brown. But Tufts got a second-chance hoop at the 1:00 mark to cut the difference to 56-54. Wesleyan then turned the ball over on its next possession before Tufts missed a three-pointer with :27 left. Beresford was fouled with :25 to go, but missed the front end of a one-and-one chance. Tufts got a point back by making the front end of his one-and-one, but missed the second as Jason Mendell '12 grabbed the rebound for Wesleyan. Mendell was fouled right away but also missed the front end of a one-and-one with :10.7 showing with Tufts grabbing the board. Tufts then returned to the line to take its first lead in since holding a 33-31 advantage with 15:59 to go in the second half by canning a pair before Brown put the finishing touches on the outcome.
Wesleyan evened the long-standing series with Tufts at 39-39 with the victory. Tufts had earned a 79-65 win in Medford, Mass. in last year's encounter as the teams have alternated triumphs over the last six meetings.
Joining Brown in double-digit scoring for Wesleyan was Callaghan as he netted 10 along with six rebounds. Game-high honors on the boards went to Thomas with 10. Neither team shot particularly well at the line as Tufts was 8-for-14 with Wesleyan going 6-for-13. Still, the Cardinals hit 50 percent from the field with Tufts making 39.3 percent of its shots from the floor.
Taking on Bates, Wesleyan found itself tied at halftime 23-23 as neither team led by more than five points through 25 minutes of action. But Bates dominated a 4:24 stretch that turned a 31-29 Wesleyan lead with 16:15 to go into a 44-31 Bates lead with 11:51 to play, a 15-0 run. Bates pushed it to 17 at 53-36 three minutes later and let Wesleyan get no closer than 10 before extending the margin to as many as 21 before game's end. Derick Beresford led Wesleyan with 24 points, equalling his career high. Brown added 18 and Thomas cleared 11 rebounds to take game-high honors.
Up next for the squad is a home NESCAC matchup with Conn. College Sat., Jan. 28.
NOTE: Wesleyan head coach Joe Reilly was featured on D3hoops.com "Hoopsville" talk program Thurs., Jan. 19 during its 8-10 p.m. airing. The archive of the program can be accessed by clicking < here >. Joe Reilly's segment begins shortly after the one-hour mark.