Thursday, January 25, 2018

Wilkes Men’s Basketball Escapes with Sole Possession of First in Overtime Thriller at Misericordia

DALLAS, Pa. – The Wilkes University men’s basketball team put forth a total team effort, escaping with a well-earned 87-82 overtime victory at Misericordia in Dallas, Pa. on Wednesday evening. Coupled with Eastern University’s 21-point loss at Delaware Valley University the Colonels now hold sole possession of first place in the Middle Atlantic Conference Freedom (MAC Freedom).

The Colonels are improved to 6-1 in conference and 13-5 overall.

Wilkes jumped out to the first lead in the game as Mark Mullins, Zach Brunner, and Rob Pecorelli (twice) converted on high-percentage shot attempts as the Colonels raced out to an 8-2 lead through the first 2:40. Misericordia closed the gap following a 10-3 run closed out by a three-pointer at the 14 minute mark to make the score 12-11.

While the Cougars maintained a small lead over the following 12-plus minutes that never reached more than eight, Wilkes regained the advantage with 1:51 on the clock until halftime after Pecorelli drained a three from the left corner and extended it to four at 32-28 following a Brunner 15-foot jumper from the top of the paint. The Colonels closed the first half on a 17-3 run, entering the break with a 37-29 lead, their largest of the half. Pecorelli paced Wilkes in the first period with 10 points, three rebounds, and two assists while Brunner added nine points and four rebounds. The Colonels turned on their shooting late to lift their average to 42 percent (14-33).

Wilkes started the second half on a 5-2 run highlighted by a three-pointer from Connor Evans to take a 42-31 lead, but Misericordia began to close the gap as it went on its own 9-0 run to cut the Colonel lead to two at 42-40 with 14:40 on the clock.

Wilkes remained in front holding a 54-51 lead with 9:01 left in the game but the Cougars retook the lead following a 7-1 run as they led 58-55 with 7:18 remaining in the game.

Both teams exchanged leads over the final seven minutes with the Colonels tying the score at 71 following a Marcus Robinson free throw with 54 seconds on the clock. After Misericordia converted a layup to take the lead with 34 seconds on the clock, Wilkes proceeded to miss three consecutive layups before Brunner hauled in an offensive rebound on the final miss and was fouled, sending him to the line for two crucial free throws with 12 seconds left. Calm and collected as usual, Brunner converted both attempts to tie the score with the Colonels playing just enough defense  on Misericordia’s final trip up the floor as the game went into overtime tied at 73.

The Colonels came out with the requisite fire and intensity in overtime, jumping on a 6-0 run, leading 79-73 with 2:34 left two free throws a piece from Brunner and Evans sandwiched around a layup from Mullins. The Cougars closed the gap to three at 85-82 with 13 seconds remaining but Mullins hit two free throws with eight second on the clock to ice the victory.

Wilkes was led by Mullins’ 21 points, six rebounds, and three steals. Pecorelli (14 points, nine rebounds, career-high seven assists), Evans (13 points, three rebounds, two assists), Brunner (13 points, 10 rebounds, second double-double of season), Robinson (10 points, six rebounds), and Tommy Bowen (10 points, four rebounds) all finished in double-figures for scoring for the Colonels.

Misericordia was led by Jason Kenny, who finished with 23 points, four rebounds, and three assists. The Cougars were also led by Stone McCreary (21 points, eight rebounds, three assists), Tre’ Fields (14 points, six rebounds), and Tony Harding (12 points, four rebounds).
Wilkes returns to action on Saturday when it will host Delaware Valley for a 3:00 p.m. MAC Freedom contest at the Marts Center.

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