AURORA, N.Y. – Freshman Rich Ross (Bronx, N.Y.) had a monster game for the Wells College men's basketball team, but the Express dropped a 95-80 contest to the visiting Highlanders from Houghton College on Saturday. Wells falls to 1-2 overall on the year while Houghton picks up its second victory of the year in three games.
Ross tallied 31 points for the Express, the first Wells player to reach the 30-point mark since E.J. Taylor scored 36 points against Keuka on Jan. 16, 2013. He also added eight rebounds to lead the team in that category. Junior Vaughndell Brantley (Syracuse, N.Y.) added 20 points for the Express, reeling in six rebounds, while freshman Zachary Marsh (Whitney Point, N.Y.) used a 2-for-3 performance from distance to tally eight points.
Wells led by as many as three points with 12:52 left in the first half, using a Ross three-pointer to take a 19-16 lead. Houghton, however, used an 8-0 run to recapture a 24-19 lead. Brantley posted back-to-back layups to cut into the Highlanders lead before another three from Ross put Wells ahead by a 26-24 margin with 8:42 left in the first half.
Houghton rallied to use a 17-4 scoring run that spanned only 4:07 to capture a 41-30 lead. Down the stretch in the first half, however, Wells scored 13 of the game's 14 points to retake the lead, 43-42, after a fast break layup from sophomore MJ Williams (Tampa, Fla.). Houghton saw a big three-point basket from Dylan Lambert and a free throw by Zdravko Bogdanoski to hold on to a slim halftime lead at 46-45.
A Williams trey to lead off the second half gave Wells its final lead of the afternoon at 48-46. The Highlanders stifled the Express offense across the game's next 5:13 of play, using a 17-8 run that saw Jonathan Stowe score 10 of his team's points during that span. The Express would reduce the Highlanders lead to one point on two separate occasions, using a Brantley layup at 10:04 to shrink the deficit to 67-66.
The Wells bench did post a strong performance in the game's final 1:23 as freshman David Dames (Manhattan, N.Y.) had a layup in the paint and Marsh posted a three and a jumper down the stretch.
Houghton connected on 50% of its shots from the floor (34-for-68) despite the Express (7-for-16, 43.8%) outshooting the Highlanders from distance. Stowe and Brandon Camacho each posted 20 points for Houghton while Lambert and Phil Pellegrino added 17 and 14 points, respectively, for the Highlanders.
Wells returns to action Wednesday, Dec. 2 as it welcomes Morrisville State College to campus for a 5 p.m. North Eastern Athletic Conference contest at the Farenthold Athletic Wing.