LA PLUME, Pa. – Junior J.J. Walton (Ocala, Fla.) scored a career-high 25 points for the Wells College men's basketball team in a 95-91 season opening loss to the Giants of Keystone College Friday evening at the Gambal Athletic Center. Wells drops to 0-1 on the season following the non-conference tilt while the Giants improve to 1-0 in the year's early goings.
Walton was 10-for-15 from the floor and poured home five foul shots for a career-high 25 points to lead all Wells players. Sophomore Randy McCormick (Massillon, Ohio) and junior Shakeel Simmons (Brentwood, N.Y.) each recorded double-digit point totals in their first games in a Wells uniform, scoring 18 and 15 points, respectively. Senior Al Paul (Elmont, N.Y.) secured his first career double-double with 11 rebounds alongside 11 points.
Trailing by a 13-12 margin with 12:51 remaining in the first half, the Express rattled off seven-straight points to capture their largest lead of the game at 19-13. A foul by Deion Monroe sent Simmons to the line to bury both free throws to place Wells up by one, 14-13, with 11:14 remaining in the opening stanza. A layup by Simmons preceded a booming three-point basket by McCormick at 10:12 to place Wells ahead with 10:12 remaining in the first half.
With a 40-37 lead for Wells in the last minute of play following a layup by freshman Chris Courtney (Auburn, N.Y.), Ben Hall of Keystone carried the ball up the floor and pounded home a three-point basket to tie the score at 40 aside in the waning seconds. Courtney fouled Miles Dargan with seven seconds remaining on the clock, sending him to the line to bury both foul shots to capture a 42-40 halftime lead.
A layup by Walton with only 58 seconds expired in the second half tied the game for the seventh time, 42-42. The Giants, however, responded in a huge way with seven-straight points including a Duncan Lunsford three-pointer that preceded a slam dunk by Jesse Longmire to grant the hosts a 49-42 lead. Not to be outdone, however, Wells countered again with seven-straight points to knot the score at 49 aside with 15:16 remaining in regulation time
After tying the score for the game's 11th time, Keystone held onto the lead for good with 11:19 remaining in the second half following a layup by Dan Candemeres. Wells only came as close as one point from tying the game again as Keystone grew the lead to 10, 88-78, in the game's final minute. Candemeres led all Keystone players with 23 points while Lunsford ranked second on the squad with 22 points.
Wells held the edge in field goal percentage, shooting 46.5% (33-of-71) from the floor while Keystone converted 27-of-59 shots (45.8%). Keystone, however, dominated from beyond the arc, pouring home 10 three-pointers opposing only four from the Express. Last season, Wells recorded a 92-82 home victory over Keystone. Today's victory by Keystone evens the all-time series at one apiece.
The Express return to action Tuesday, Nov. 19 as they face-off against the Saxons of Alfred University in a 7:00 p.m. road contest.