SWARTHMORE, Pa. – Despite Matt Knowles' second-half scoring spree, the Ursinus College men's basketball team was unable to keep up with first-place Swarthmore in an 84-74 Centennial Conference setback on Wednesday night.
Knowles had 25 of his career-high 30 points after intermission for the Bears (13-9, 10-5), who missed out on a chance to forge a tie for first place in the league standings. The 24th-ranked Garnet (18-4, 12-3) completed the season sweep and took control in the race for the regular-season title behind a balanced scoring attack and a relentless long-range display.
Zack Yonda led four players in double figures with 20 points for Swarthmore, making four of the home side's 14 shots from 3-point range. Cam Wiley finished with 19, while Nate Shafer added 12 and Sam Lebryk matched him with four triples.
Knowles did his best to will the Bears to their first road victory over a nationally ranked opponent in 14 years, going 7 for 10 from the field while making all four of his 3-point attempts and all 12 of his free throws. All four of the senior's triples and nine of his free throws came after halftime, but the Garnet was equal to every Bears push.
Ursinus led by as many as seven in the first half, taking advantage of a sluggish start by Swarthmore to go up 17-10 on a bucket by junior Zach Quattro at the 8:55 mark. Lebryk and Yonda, however, buried treys on back-to-back possessions as the scoring picked up in a big way. The Garnet went ahead for good on a 3-pointer by Yonda that made it 28-26 at 5:52.
Knowles scored the last five points of the first half, including a three-point play, to bring the Bears within 37-34 at the break, and he had the first five of the second stanza to keep the margin razor-thin. Ursinus twice got within a point, on back-to-back jumpers by sophomore Matt Williams and junior Joseph LoStracco that sandwiched a Shafer bucket, but Wiley connected on two triples in the span of a minute to push the spread out to 52-45.
A 3-pointer by Yonda and a lay-up from Robbie Walsh made it 57-47 with 11:06 to play, and Knowles continued to pile up the points, accounting for 15 straight Ursinus markers over the next seven minutes and change. But each time Knowles went off, the Garnet had a response at the ready.
Knowles had a four-point play to slice the deficit to 66-59 at the 6:44 mark, but Lebryk nailed a trey on the other end. After two free throws by Knowles, Henry Cousineau knocked down a deep ball to make it 72-61 with 5:09 remaining. The Bears were unable to get the margin to single digits from there.
Tens were wild for junior Remi Janicot, who collected the tenth double-double of his career with ten points and ten rebounds. Quattro and sophomore Eric Williams Jr. notched nine points each. Junior Brian Rafferty registered four points, six rebounds, and five assists.
Swarthmore finished 14 for 31 (45.2 percent) from beyond the arc and held a 43-30 advantage on the boards. The Garnet assisted on 20 of their 28 made field goals, led by six from Shafer, who also had 11 rebounds. Wiley added eight boards and four assists to his stat line.
The men's basketball team will honor Knowles and Patrick Mekongo as part of Senior Day festivities prior to Saturday's game against Dickinson.