MARCY, N.Y. – In the first round of the North Eastern Athletic Conference men's basketball playoffs, the Express men's basketball team fell to the host Wildcats from the SUNY Polytechnic Institute (14-12) by a 71-49 score on Tuesday.
Wells concludes its eighth season as a varsity program with a 12-13 overall record after capturing the third seed in the NEAC North Division with a 10-8 mark against league opponents. The host Wildcats will move on to the conference semifinals, taking on the nationally-ranked Chargers from Lancaster Bible on Saturday, Feb. 27 in Lancaster, Pa. at 1 p.m.
In the loss, the Express shot a season-low 29.4% from the floor. Freshman Rich Ross (Bronx, N.Y.) scored a team-leading 25 points for Wells while also recording a game-high eight rebounds. Senior Jordan Bishop (Arlington, Texas) finished his Express career with seven rebounds and five points while sophomore Cadeem Campbell (Union City, N.J.) and junior James Feocco (Auburn, N.Y.) matched Bishop's scoring output.
Both teams were tied at four through the game's first 2:22 as the Wildcats used a Quayshaun Mitchell layup to draw even. SUNY Poly, however, would go on a 9-0 run to put the Express in an early hole following back-to-back free throw makes by Michael Boyea. A brief rally by Wells was capped by a made free throw by Ross, cutting the score to 13-11 in favor of the hosts.
Bishop made a jumper with 7:37 left in the first half to cut the hosts lead to 14-13, but eight-straight points by the Wildcats put Wells in a 22-13 hole. Boyea converted the three-point play after a Wells foul on his made layup to create a 31-17 halftime lead for SUNY Poly.
In the first half of play, the Express shot only 7-for-27 (25.9%) from the floor as the Express committed six miscues in the stanza. SUNY Poly also held the advantage in rebounding through the first 20 minutes (28-to-17) that included a 9-to-5 edge on the offensive glass.
Brantley made back-to-back free throws with only 2:02 expired in the second half, cutting the SUNY Poly lead to 13 points (36-23), but the Wildcats countered with six-straight points to slow the Express momentum. Wells ultimately found itself down by a 48-27 score, a 21-point deficit, with 10:18 remaining in regulation time after back-to-back free throws by Mitchell.
SUNY Poly continued to keep Wells at bay down the stretch in the second half despite a Ross jumper with 8:57 to go cutting the lead to 14 points, 48-34. A late triple by Mitchell, however, put Wells in a 65-43 hole that they could not climb out of.
Boyea scored 19 points for SUNY Poly while Mitchell finished with 17 points. As a team, the Wildcats shot 40.7% (22-for-54) and limited the Express to only 1-for-16 from three-point range.