AURORA, N.Y. – Despite trailing by 13 points early in the second half, the Wells College men's basketball team outscored their opponent by a 51-31 margin in the second stanza to secure an 87-77 victory over the Wildcats of SUNYIT at the Frances Tarlton Farenthold Athletic Wing Saturday afternoon. With the victory, the Express snap a season-high three game losing streak and improve to 8-12 overall and to 4-6 within North Eastern Athletic Conference play. The Wildcats fall to 5-13 overall and to 3-5 within league play.
Juniors E.J. Taylor (Tampa Bay, Fla.) and Jonathan Hurtado (Brooklyn, N.Y.) scored 24 and 23 points, respectively, en route to the victory. Taylor poured home four three-pointers while Hurtado buried seven field goals in the win. Sophomore J.J. Walton (Ocala, Fla.) narrowly missed out on a triple-double, recording 17 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, leading the team in helpers.
The Express were granted 44 free throw opportunities in total, securing 25 of them. The last time the Express went to the line 44 times came against Penn St.-Harrisburg on Feb. 27, 2011. Their 25 converted free throws are tied for the fourth most all-time in program history – the all-time record for free throws in one game is 28 (2x, most recently 1/16/13 at Keuka).
Wells never possessed a first half lead as SUNYIT outshot the Express by a 55.4%-to-46.8% margin and carried a 46-36 lead into halftime. Following a successful three-point shot by Tanner Metzko with 12:26 remaining in the first half, the Wildcats built up a half-high 11 point advantage, 22-11.
Taylor buried back-to-back three-pointers within one minute, with his second field goal beyond the arc cutting the SUNYIT lead to two with 3:42 remaining in the opening half, 34-32. With under two minutes remaining in the half, however, Eric Corcoran popped two three's to re-extend the Wildcats lead to 10 points entering the half.
The Wildcats possessed a game-high 13 point lead with 17:53 remaining in the second half, using a Desmian Greer three-point basket to take a 49-38 lead. However, the momentum shift came following a technical foul issued to Alex Drake with 17:50 remaining – the infraction allowed Hurtado to bury two-straight free throws. Only 10 seconds after Hurtado's two points, Taylor hammered home a three-pointer to cut the lead to eight.
After back and forth baskets, Taylor's fourth three-pointer of the afternoon cut the deficit to six points, 54-48, with 16:13 remaining in the contest. The Express captured their first lead of the afternoon with 8:51 remaining in regulating time as Walton laid the ball up and in to grant his team a 66-64 lead with time winding down.
With the visiting team stuck at 64 points since a Metzko layup with 10:02 remaining in the half, the Express ran off 15 unanswered points to take the lead. Frustrations boiled over with 5:30 remaining in the contest, as T'Andre Richardson and the SUNYIT bench were issued technical fouls, giving SUNYIT a total of three technical fouls on the afternoon. Taylor buried 2-of-4 technical foul shots to add insurance for the Express down the stretch.
In the second half, Wells allowed zero second chance baskets and zero points off turnovers to secure the victory. In addition, Taylor and Hurtado each scored 14 points in the second half alone to help lift the Express out of their most recent losing streak
For SUNYIT, Richardson led the way with 22 points to his credit after knocking down 10-of-16 shots from the field. Kaleel Johnson secured 18 points for his team while Greer added 14 of his own. Johnson posted a team-best five assists while Richardson posted two blocks to lead the team in that category.
With the victory, SUNYIT and Wells have each collected six victories against each other. No NEAC opponent of the Express has a winning record against Wells College in their team's five year history.
The Express return to action Wednesday, Jan. 30 as they face-off against the Wildcats of Cazenovia College in Cazenovia, N.Y. at 7:00 p.m. Wells returns home Saturday, Feb. 16 as they host the Storm of Keuka College on Senior Day – lone senior student-athlete Kenneth Boddie (Syracuse, N.Y.) will be honored in a pre-game ceremony at the Frances Tarlton Farenthold Athletic Wing.
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