No. 6 men’s basketball edged by four points at Wesleyan

Michael Grassey '19 (Josh McKee photo)
Michael Grassey '19 (Josh McKee photo)

Wesleyan University's Austin Hutcherson scored 24 of his game-high 32 points in the final 20 minutes, and the Cardinals posted a 73-69 NESCAC win against the Hamilton College Continentals at Wesleyan's Silloway Gymnasium on Friday night.

Hamilton (13-1, 1-1 NESCAC) -- ranked sixth in the Top 25 poll -- suffered its first setback while the Cardinals (10-4, 2-1) picked up their second straight win against a nationally ranked opponent.

Michael Grassey '19 led the Continentals with 20 points and chipped in five rebounds and two steals. Kena Gilmour '20 dropped in 15 points and Tim Doyle '19 and Peter Hoffmann '19 contributed eight points apiece. Hoffmann also brought down eight rebounds and Andrew Groll '19 grabbed seven.

Hutcherson was 5 of 10 from long range. Antone Walker scored 11 points, Jens Ulrich-Verderber had eight and Jordan Bonner tallied eight points and 14 rebounds. Joe DeLollo had three blocked shots and Jordan James dished out four assists.

Gilmour hit back-to-back jump shots to get Hamilton on the scoreboard and Grassey's mid-range jumper at 16:24 made the score 6-2. Hutcherson was fouled on a 3-point attempt with 10:37 left and went to the line where he connected on all three foul shots to cut Hamilton's lead to one at 15-14. The Continentals responded with a 10-2 run for a 25-16 cushion. Mark Lutz '20 and Nick Osarenren '22 knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers to kick off the run and Hoffmann ended it with a layup at 6:45. Gilmour scored seven of Hamilton's nine points in the final two minutes of the first half. His basket with nine seconds left gave Hamilton a 40-31 halftime advantage but also represented his last points of the night.

Hamilton opened the second half by extending its lead to 44-33 on back-to-back layups by Grassey and Groll. Groll followed with a block and Doyle banked in a layup at 18:16 to spark a timeout by Wesleyan. Bonner led the Cardinals' rally after the timeout with three consecutive baskets, and a layup by Hutcherson at the 16:00 mark capped an 8-0 run to cut Wesleyan's deficit to five. Grassey responded with a downtown jumper off a feed from Gilmour to make the score 49-41. The Continentals still held a 60-54 edge with 5:41 to go but the Cardinals took the lead for good with a 12-1 spurt in just 2:23. Hutcherson scored all 12 points on three straight 3-pointers and an old-fashioned 3-point play. His first made the score 60-57 at 5:31, his second tied the score, and his third gave Wesleyan a 63-61 lead -- its first since it was 2-0 -- with 3:47 remaining. The Cardinals went 5-for-5 from the charity stripe in the final minute to seal the victory.

The Continentals visit New London, Conn., on Saturday to take on Connecticut College in NESCAC action at 3 p.m.