KEUKA PARK, N.Y. – The Wells College men's basketball team posted a tough 68-62 loss to the host Keuka College Wolfpack Wednesday afternoon. With the loss, Wells drops to 4-14 overall and to 4-6 within the North Eastern Athletic Conference. Keuka improves to 9-6 and to 6-3 within league play.
The Express were led by senior EZ Garcia (Cotulla, Texas) and his career-high 23 points, courtesy of a 9-for-10 performance from the free throw line along with two three-point baskets. The next leading scorers were senior Shakeel Simmons (Brentwood, N.Y.) and sophomore James Feocco (Auburn, N.Y.) who each scored seven points. As a team, the Express shot a disappointing 4-for-17 from three-point range alongside only nine offensive rebounds.
Wells got off to a slow start in Wednesday's game, falling behind 7-0 before a three-point basket by freshman Jordyn Tyler (Richmond, Va.) cut the Keuka lead to 8-5 with 13:11 left in the first half. Feocco followed shortly thereafter with a layup, bringing Wells to within one point, but an Adam Starks trey boosted Keuka to an 11-7 lead.
A Casey Williams made free throw with 6:18 left in the opening frame lifted Keuka to a seven-point lead, 20-13, but Wells saw instant offense from Simmons who poured home a three to create a more manageable deficit. Wells continued to chip away at the once-sizeable deficit, shrinking the Keuka lead to one, 26-25, after making three free throws in the game's final 1:26.
The Express shot 8-for-20 (40%) heading into halftime, outrebounding the Wolfpack by a 13-to-11 margin, but the hosts were a tidy 7-for-14 (50%) from the floor in the opening 20. In total, 15 different players saw the floor for Wells with no player seeing more than 11 minutes on the hardwood en route to their small halftime deficit.
Trailing by six points, 33-27, following a Tyler Hixson layup, Garcia posted a layup, free throw and a three-point basket – all within 50 seconds – to tie the game at 33 with 15:36 left in regulation. A Simmons jumper followed immediately after, catapulting Wells into the lead. A three-pointer by Jared Wagner reestablished a lead for Keuka, but Simmons again lifted a jumper to give Wells a 37-36 lead with 12:20 left.
Wells would not lead again, however, as the hosts led by as much as six points with 2:11 left in regulation time. Taking advantage of a technical foul called on a Keuka player, Garcia buried back-to-back technical free throws and added a fastbreak layup with just under one minute left. Converting the "and-one" opportunity, Wells trailed by only one point, 63-62, with 58 seconds left.
After a 1-for-2 performance by a Keuka shooter at the foul line with 35 seconds left, Wells trailed 64-62. A missed layup by Wells preceded back-to-back missed foul shots with 23 seconds left. With Wells forced to foul, Keuka went to the line and recreated a strong lead in the waning seconds of the contest.
32 of Keuka's 68 points came from the foul line as Trevor Healey posted 14 points and 12 rebounds, shooting 10-for-13 from the charity stripe. In total, four different Wolfpack players scored at least 11 points, led by Williams who registered 15.
The Express return to action Saturday, Jan. 31 as they welcome Cazenovia to the Farenthold Athletic Wing at 2 p.m.