Men's basketball holds off Cazenovia in home opener
Four Hamilton College players scored in double figures and the Continentals held off the Cazenovia College Wildcats for a 79-75 non-conference victory at Hamilton's Margaret Bundy Scott Field House on Tuesday afternoon.
Peter Hoffmann '19 led the Continentals with a season-high 15 points before he fouled out with 55 seconds left. Jack Dwyer '18 chipped in 11 points and seven assists, Kelan McConnell '18 scored 10 points in his first career start and Joe Pucci '18 added 10 points off the bench.
Hamilton (2-1 overall) held a commanding 35-11 advantage in bench points as the Continentals played 13 players. Hamilton enjoyed a 42-33 edge on the glass, and eight Continentals combined to block nine shots. Hamilton entered the day ranked ninth in Division III with 6.5 blocked shots per game.
For Cazenovia (0-3), Ryan Gavin poured in a game-high 20 points and played all 40 minutes. Gavin went 12-for-18 at the free-throw line and grabbed eight rebounds. The Wildcats ended up 27-for-35 (77 percent) at the line as a team.
Avery Wilmore netted 14 points and handed out four assists, Jordan Gilman contributed 14 points and Will Thompson recorded nine points and eight boards for Cazenovia.
The Continentals, who are 6-0 all-time against the Wildcats, led for more than 37 minutes but the game was close down the stretch as neither team led by double-digits the last 11 minutes of the second half.
After a layup by Pucci put Hamilton up by nine at 60-51 with 10:07 remaining, the Wildcats ran off nine straight points and forged the first tie score of the afternoon at 60-60 on a Wilmore layup with 8:30 to go. Ajani Santos '16 put the Continentals back in the lead with a free throw but a jumper by Gilman gave Cazenovia its first lead since it was 1-0 at 62-61 with 7:18 left.
On Hamilton's next possession, Santos was fouled and made both free throws. The two points by Santos put the Continentals in the lead for good at 63-62 with 6:48 remaining. A layup by Dwyer and a basket by Pucci put Hamilton up by five with 5:34 to go.
The Wildcats refused to go away and still trailed by just two points at 76-74 after two free throws by Gavin with 1:21 left. Two free throws by Hoffmann put the Continentals up by four with 1:11 remaining. Hoffmann then fouled out on the next possession and Gavin pulled Cazenovia within 78-75 with 55 seconds to go when he made the first of two at the line.
Hamilton had the ball and a chance to make it a two-possession game. Wes Wilbur '17 missed a shot along the baseline as the 30-second shot clock was winding down but Wilbur came up with the biggest rebound of the day as he grabbed his own miss. The Continentals called a timeout and Dwyer was then fouled in the backcourt with 18 seconds left. He made the first one for the four-point lead and missed the second. The Wildcats missed three shots in the final seconds.
It seemed that Hamilton would run away from Cazenovia early in the first half. The Continentals jumped out to their biggest lead of 17 points at 23-6 and 25-8 midway through the half.
Tim Doyle '19 gave Hamilton a 27-14 advantage with 8:28 remaining but the Wildcats went on a 13-2 run over the next six minutes and trailed by just two at 29-27. Gavin scored five points -- all on free throws -- during the spurt. By halftime the Continentals had pushed their lead back up to five points at 38-33. Cazenovia shot just 29 percent from the floor in the first half.
Hamilton hosts its own invitational on Saturday, Nov. 28. The Continentals play SUNY Cobleskill at 7 p.m. and Hartwick College takes on nationally ranked No. 14 Eastern Connecticut State University at 5.