COBLESKILL, N.Y. – The Wells College men's basketball fell to the Fighting Tigers of SUNY Cobleskill by a 60-56 margin on Tuesday at the Iorio Gymnasium. With the loss, the Express fall to 8-13 overall on the season and to 7-7 in North Eastern Athletic Conference play. The Fighting Tigers (5-12, 4-7 NEAC) collect their fifth victory of the season.
Senior Al Paul (Elmont, N.Y.) led all Express players with 15 total points, shooting 4-for-8 from the floor and adding seven foul shots to account for his scoring. Classmate Jonathan Hurtado (Brooklyn, N.Y.) ranked second with 14 total points, pulling down a team-best nine rebounds for the Express. Paul also posted three assists, leading the team in that category. Senior Jonathan Bonds (Chicago, Ill.) poured home two three-point baskets in the game's final minutes, a team-leading mark.
Wells and Cobleskill battled in what proved to be a hotly-contested first half of play. Trailing by one point, 11-10, with 10:27 left in the stanza, Wells rattled off the game's next six points to capture a five point lead (16-11) with 7:12 left in the first. The Express led by as much as five points, 18-13, late in the first half but were outscored by a 9-to-1 margin down the stretch to enter the locker room trailing by a 22-19 margin.
The Fighting Tigers scored the second half's first six points before a Paul dunk with 17:47 left in regulation time momentarily stopped the Cobleskill run. The Fighting Tigers, however, scored eight of the game's next 10 points to create a 13 point lead. The hosts eventually built a game-high 17 point lead at 44-27 with only 10:57 left in regulation time but the Express were able to chip away at the sizeable lead.
Bonds' three-point shooting revived the Express offense down the stretch as the first of his two three-pointers cut the hosts lead to eight points, 51-43, with 4:31 remaining. Bonds' second "three" created only a seven point deficit (54-47) with 2:38 remaining. An Alexis Nunez turnover and a steal by Bonds preceded a layup by Hurtado to create a five point deficit. Junior J.J. Walton (Ocala, Fla.) scored immediately following a missed foul shot by Dane Brown, setting the score at 55-51 in favor of Cobleskill.
A layup by Paul and an ensuing foul by Mike Chapman sent the Wells shooter to the line to bury the "and-one", cutting the Cobleskill lead to 55-54 with only 53 seconds left on the clock. After trading two successful foul shots down the stretch, the Express still trailed by one point (57-56) with 14 seconds left. Once again forced to foul their Fighting Tigers counterparts, Chapman converted 1-of-2 foul shots with 13 seconds left to create a two point lead (58-56) in favor of Cobleskill.
Wells, needing a basket to tie the game, brought the ball down the court only to see Chapman commit a foul with seven seconds left. The Express, however, missed both foul shots and, as a result, returned the possession back to Cobleskill who added two late foul shots to create a four point lead, 60-56, as time ran out.
The Fighting Tigers were led by 20 point performances from both Nunez and Brandon Smith. Nunez added six assists while Bryan Backus posted a team-leading five steals. Chapman tallied seven rebounds for the Fighting Tigers in the victory while Smith chipped in with three blocks, a team-leading mark.
Wells returns to action next Friday, Feb. 14 as they face-off against the Nittany Lions of Penn St.-Berks in a 6:00 p.m. contest.