Hartford, Conn. - Junior guard B.J. Davis (Hamden, Conn.) scored 11 points to lead the visiting Wesleyan University Cardinals to a 55-52 win over the Trinity College Bantams in the semifinals of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Men's Basketball Championship Tournament this afternoon on Ogrodnik Court in Oosting Gymnasium. No. 6-seeded Wesleyan improves to 18-8 with its fourth win in a row and will play No. 5-seeded Amherst in the NESCAC Finals tomorrow at noon at Trinity. The Bantams drop to 20-6 with their first loss in eight games and hope to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament when the field is announced on Monday.
Trinity fell behind early, 15-4, as Cardinal junior tri-captain guard Jack Mackey (Warwick, N.Y.) scored eight of his 10 points in the game's first eight minutes. Trinity battled back and cut the Wesleyan lead to 24-18 with one minute left in the first half on a pair of free throws by junior guard Jaquann Starks (Hartford, Conn.), but Wesleyan sophomore P.J. Reed (Fort Lee, N.J.) made one of two from the charity stripe to put the visitors ahead, 32-25, at the half. The teams combined to shoot 28 percent from the field in the opening stanza, but Wesleyan made four from long range, while the Bantams were 1-for-9 from beyond the arc.
The game went back and forth over the first hald of the second frame until a three-pointer and jumper by Bantam senior tri-captain Hart Gliedman (New York, N.Y.) pulled Trinity to within three points at 39-36 with 10:46 on the clock. The Cardinals answered with a 9-0 run and led, 48-36, with just under eight minutes remaining on an old-fashioned three-point play by jnior forward Rashid Epps (Harlem, N.Y.).
Trailing, 50-40, with under seven minutes left, Trinity scored 12 of the games next 15 points to pull to within a point at 53-52 with 2:14 on the clock. Junior forward Shay Ajayi (Brooklyn, N.Y.) started the run with a three-pointer and senior tri-captain center George Papadeas (Athens, Greece) scored six points including two on a layup to cut the Cardinal lead to one. Trinity junior guard Andrew Hurd (Windsor, Conn.) made a steal on the defensive end but Papadeas' short jumper was short to give Wesleyan the possession back. Davis hit a pair of free throws to push the Wesleyan advantage to three at 55-52, and game-tying long balls by Papadeas and Starks fell off the mark.
Gliedman and Papadeas scored 12 points apiece for Trinity, while Starks had 11 and Ajayi added 10. Papadeas and Starks also grabbed seven boards each, and Papadeas had a pair of blocked shots. Hurd notched five assists and three steals off the Trinity bench. Mackey had 10 points and six rebounds for Wesleyan, which won despite shooting just 32.7 percent from the field (17-52) and missing 12 of 17 three-point attempts. The Bantams were 4-for-17 from long range and 8-for14 from the foul line.