AURORA, N.Y. – Freshman Rich Ross (Bronx, N.Y.) scored 25 points and sent home the game-winning free throw to elevate the Wells College men's basketball team to an 80-79 victory over Cazenovia College on Thursday at the Farenthold Athletic Wing. Wells moves to 4-7 overall on the year and to 2-2 within the North Eastern Athletic Conference. Cazenovia drew its eighth loss in nine games on the season.
Ross was 8-for-16 from the floor, hauling in seven rebounds while pouring in five three-point baskets. Sophomore MJ Williams (Tampa, Fla.) was second on the team in point scoring with 12 while junior James Feocco (Auburn, N.Y.) and classmate Vaughndell Brantley (Syracuse, N.Y.) posted 11 and 10 points, respectively. Brantley narrowly missed a double-double with nine rebounds to his credit.
Wells, who improves to 13-2 all-time against Cazenovia, held the lead for only 46 seconds in Thursday's game.
A three-point basket by freshman Zachary Marsh (Whitney Point, N.Y.) put Wells ahead by an 8-5 lead, but Cazenovia used a 14-0 run that spanned nearly four minutes to take a commanding (and game-high) 11-point lead, 19-8, with 10:49 left in the first half. In total, Cazenovia had eight separate 10-plus point leads in the game, but the Express mounted a furious rally down the stretch.
Down by nine points, 73-64, with 4:56 to go in regulation time, Wells used five-straight points from Brantley and a Ross fast break layup to shrink the Cazenovia lead to 73-71 with exactly four minutes left in the second half. Marsh countered back-to-back free throw makes by Ryan Gavin with a clutch three-point basket to trail by only one point, 75-74, with 2:50 left.
Gavin once again pumped home two free throws before a layup by senior Jordan Bishop (Arlington, Texas) once again reduced the Cazenovia lead to one point with 1:32 left in regulation time. The Wildcats, however, reestablished a three-point lead after a Michael DeLuca layup with 77 seconds left in the half.
Down 79-76 at that point, Williams converted a clutch three-point basket to tie the game at 79 with only 54 seconds left. Cazenovia brought the ball up and turned the ball over with 32 seconds left, setting up Wells to win the game on its second-to-last possession. Driving to the hoop with just over five seconds left, Ross was fouled and went to the line.
With Cazenovia in a double bonus situation, Ross made the first free throw but the second shot rolled off the front of the rum where it was picked up by Gavin. Sprinting up the court, a three-point attempt by Cazenovia was too long, kicking off the back of the rim and securing a win for the Express.
Gavin paced Cazenovia with a double-double, scoring 23 points and collecting 13 rebounds to lead the team in both statistics. Avery Wilmore was second on the squad, netting 19 points, while assisting six baskets and picking up three steals.
Wells hosts Keuka College this Saturday, Jan. 9 in a 1 p.m. NEAC contest.