KEUKA PARK, N.Y. – Junior J.J. Walton (Ocala, Fla.) led the Express with 16 total points as the Wells College men's basketball team posted a 69-67 victory over the Storm of Keuka College Wednesday evening at the Weed Physical Arts Center. With the win, the Express improve to 2-5 overall on the year and to 2-0 within North Eastern Athletic Conference play. The Storm even both their overall record (3-3) and their league record (1-1).
Alongside his team-leading point total, Walton also led the team with four steals and three assists. Junior Shakeel Simmons (Brentwood, N.Y.) ranked second with nine points for the Express, shooting 4-for-4 from the floor while freshman Jordan Jean (Englewood, N.J.) pulled down a team-best eight rebounds for Wells.
Keuka jumped out to a 8-2 lead within the game's first 3:12, utilizing six points from the Storm's Tyler Hixson to build the early advantage. Wells rebounded in the half to build a six point advantage, using two free throws by Randy McCormick (Massillon, Ohio) with 4:31 remaining in the stanza to elevate the Express to a 26-20 lead. The Storm, however, scored eight of the game's next 10 points, capturing a 33-30 lead with one minute left on the clock.
With the clock ticking down, McCormick poured home a clutch three-point basket with 25 seconds remaining in the half to knot the score at 33 aside. A late Wells turnover, however, led to a Vinney Zambito layup with only seconds remaining to give a boost to the home team entering halftime.
Keuka built an eight point advantage following the half, using two layups and a foul shot from Hixson to take a 46-38 lead with 17:08 remaining in the second half. Wells, however, battled back to tie the score at 52 with a Walton foul shot with 13:06 remaining in the stanza.
Wells was able to stave off the furious Keuka comeback, taking the lead for good with 10:41 remaining in the second half. A Tyrese Campbell (Staten Island, N.Y.) layup granted the Express a 55-54 lead and the visitors never looked back, building a 10 point lead following a Paul layup with 6:28 remaining in the second half.
Keuka countered with eight-straight points with five minutes remaining in the half, cutting the Wells lead to 67-65. Wells, however, maintained a lead throughout the remainder of regulation time to stave off a comeback.
The Storm were led by Hixson's 31 points, having scored 19 points in the first 20 minutes alone. Casey Williams ranked second, scoring 12 points and pulling down a team-best eight rebounds. Three players recorded four assists for Keuka, including Williams, Trevor Healey and Adam Starks.
Wells returns to action this Saturday, Dec. 7 as they host the Fighting Tigers of SUNY Cobleskill in a 1:00 p.m. tilt.