Men's basketball scores Senior Day win against Wesleyan

Matt Hart '16
Matt Hart '16

Hamilton College’s Matt Hart '16 led all scorers with 23 points and the Continentals knocked off Wesleyan University 62-57 in a NESCAC game at Hamilton’s Margaret Bundy Scott Field House on Feb. 3.

The Continentals (12-10 overall, 3-5 NESCAC) stretched their winning streak to four games and have won three of the last four meetings with Wesleyan. The Cardinals' win streak ended at four.

Hart, who ranks third in Division III in freshman scoring, was 4 of 7 from long range and dished out three assists. Greg Newton '14 reached double figures with 10 points. Bradley Gifford '15 added nine points, seven rebounds and three steals. Hans Schulte '13 finished with seven points and Ken Click '13 blocked three shots. Schulte, Click and Eric Benvenuti '13 were all honored at halftime for their four years of dedication to the program.

Shasha Brown '13 paced Wesleyan with 17 points and four assists. Brown became the team’s all-time leading scorer late in the second half with 1,697 career points. Brown, who leads the NESCAC in free throws made per game, went 11-for-12 at the charity stripe. Derick Beresford '13 chipped in 11 points and Mike Callaghan '13 pulled down a game-high 11 boards.

Wesleyan (11-11, 3-5) held a 9-7 lead just over five minutes into the first half when Hamilton used a 12-2 run to go up 19-11 with 9:26 remaining. Gifford started the spurt with a jumper, Hart scored seven straight points and Jack Donnelly '16 capped the run with a trifecta.

After the teams exchanged baskets, the Cardinals scored 10 of the next 12 points to tie the score at 23-23. Bryan Galvin '15 fueled the run with a pair of 3-pointers. Benvenuti nailed a 3-pointer with 1:08 remaining, and after a bucket by the Cardinals, Newton scored the half's final points for a 30-27 Continentals' lead at the break. Hamilton shot 52.2 percent in the first half and Hart tallied 11 points.

The Continentals never trailed in the second half, but Wesleyan stayed within single digits. Hamilton grabbed a 40-33 lead following two quick baskets from beyond the arc by Hart. The Cardinals answered with an 11-4 run that tied the score at 44-44. Beresford scored nine of those points on three baskets from long range.

Hamilton held a slim 49-48 lead when the Continentals went on a 10-2 run for a 59-50 cushion with 3:31 to go. Newton hit a shot from beyond the arc, made a layup and added a free throw during the spurt. The Cardinals came right back with seven unanswered points. Four free throws by Brown and a 3-point play by Glen Thomas '14 cut Wesleyan's deficit to 59-57 with 1:45 remaining.

On the next possession, Schulte grabbed an offensive rebound, which allowed Hamilton to hold the ball for more than a minute. Hart was fouled moments later and knocked down one free throw for a 60-57 lead with 38 seconds left. The Cardinals committed a turnover and missed a layup on their next two possessions, and Gifford and Schulte added one free throw apiece in the final 20 seconds to seal the victory.

"This was a very big win for us," Hamilton head coach Adam Stockwell said. "Wesleyan is a tough, hard-nosed team that consistently outworks teams. For us to win and see our three seniors all have a major impact on the outcome of the game on Senior Day, it says a lot about their leadership and the chemistry these three have fostered in the program. We look forward to continue building on what we saw today."

Hamilton continued its hot shooting in the second half and finished at 50 percent (23-46) from the floor, including 7 of 15 from 3-point range. The Cardinals shot 38.6 percent (17-44), including 6 of 16 from long range. Wesleyan kept things close by going 17-for-19 (89.5 percent) at the free-throw line. The visitors held a slight 27-25 edge in rebounding.

Hamilton goes on the road for a NESCAC game at Tufts University on Friday, Feb. 8. Wesleyan returns home to face Bowdoin College on Friday.

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