Men's Basketball Edged In NEAC Title Game, 74-72

Men's Basketball Edged In NEAC Title Game, 74-72

MORRISVILLE, N.Y. – Despite a valiant comeback in the game's waning seconds, the Wells College men's basketball team posted a 74-72 loss to the Mustangs of Morrisville State College in the 2012-13 North Eastern Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Championship game played Sunday afternoon. With the loss, the Express wrap up their season with a 13-14 overall record alongside an 8-7 mark amongst league opponents.

Morrisville State, who claims the NEAC championship for the second-straight year, will earn an automatic bid to the 2013 NCAA Division III men's basketball tournament. With 29 points, four rebounds, four assists, and two steals in the tournament - including a game-high 21 points against Wells, Jailaan Kinsey was awarded the tournament's Most Valuable Player.

Trailing by 18 points with 13:59 remaining in the second half, the Express mounted a large comeback. With the score set at 55-37, the Express rattled off 12 straight points to cut the deficit to six points, 55-49, with 10:55 remaining in the second half. During that span, junior E.J. Taylor (Tampa Bay, Fla.) bombed two three-point baskets while junior Al Paul (Elmont, N.Y.) hammered home two jumpers.

Despite a 69-61 lead for the Mustangs with 4:24 left in regulation, Wells scored the game's next five points to cut the deficit to only three points with 3:21 remaining in the second half.  From there, Kucjok Ater temporarily placed the Express up by five. Taylor, with 1:01 remaining in regulation time, buried two out of three foul shots he was awarded after a Kinsey foul. The score forced a Rhamel Williams foul of Taylor with 12 seconds left. Following both free throw conversions, the Express trailed by only one point, 73-72.

With only nine seconds left and Morrisville possessing control of the ball, junior Jonathan Bonds (Chicago, Ill.) was forced to foul Kinsey and send him to the line. Following a 1-for-2 performance at the charity stripe, the Express retained possession as the seconds wound down. Unable to get a clean shot off during that time, Taylor launched a desperation jumper that clanged off the side of the hoop.

In the second half alone, the Express outscored Morrisville State by a 45-30 margin after trailing the host Mustangs by a 44-27 score at halftime.

Cumulatively, Paul led the Express in points for only the first time all season, posting a season-best 25 in the victory. His seven field goals led the team, as did his 11 foul shots. Taylor ranked second with 24 total points, pouring home a team-leading six three-point attempts for Wells. Sophomore J.J. Walton (Ocala, Fla.) posted a team-best seven assists while Bonds recorded a team-leading three takeaways.

For Morrisville, Kinsey scored 21 points, converting 8-of-10 shots from the floor while chipping in three assists. In total, four players, including Kinsey, scored double-digit point totals, including Brandon Hanks (18 points), Ater (15 points) and Mickey Davis (12 points).

The Express were able to come back in the game despite a 44-27 halftime deficit. Following a Jonathan Hurtado (Brooklyn, N.Y.) three point basket with 15:53 remaining in the first half to grant the Express a 7-6 lead, the host Mustangs jumped out to a 9-7 lead following a Mickey Davis three-point basket with 15:32 remaining.

From there, Morrisville controlled the play, eventually building a 17 point lead with 21 seconds remaining in the first half. In the first half alone, Kinsey had scored 15 total points and was 6-for-7 from the field. Brandon Hanks was the other double-digit point scorer for the Mustangs, pouring home 11 points in the first stanza.

Through the first half of play, the Mustangs dominated the Express from the field, outshooting Wells by a 48.5% to 33.3% margin. Taylor converted 3-of-6 of his shots from three point range, scoring nine points. Morrisville also controlled the paint, burying 18 of their 44 points from close range. Additionally, the Mustangs capitalized for 15 points directly off of Wells turnovers.

Wells has appeared in the NEAC championship game in all but one season since becoming a varsity program in 2008-09. Prior to this evening, the Express have never faced-off against Morrisville State in any postseason game.

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