SWARTHMORE, Pa. – The Ursinus College men's basketball team gave No. 14 Swarthmore all it could handle on its home floor Wednesday night, but came up just a few plays short in a 67-60 Centennial Conference setback to the defending league champion.
The Bears (4-3, 2-2) led for much of the first half and never trailed by more than four until the closing seconds, getting within 58-56 on a 3-pointer by senior Zach Quattro with 1:05 to play. But Ryan Ingram answered with a triple of his own on the next possession and the Garnet (7-0, 4-0) made all six of their free throws down the stretch to seal a victory in a battle of the conference's most high-powered offenses that morphed into a defensive struggle.
Quattro, the reigning CC Player of the Week, continued his torrid recent stretch with a game-high 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting, and sophomore Ryan McTamney chipped in 12 points and seven boards. Unfortunately for Ursinus, which came in second in all of Division III in 3-point percentage (47.0), the Bears were held to just 5-for-16 (31.3 percent) from beyond the arc by the league leader in field-goal defense.
In a rematch of last year's CC semifinal, the teams were knotted four times in the first eight minutes before Quattro buried a triple and scored inside on back-to-back trips to open up a 20-15 advantage. Senior Joseph LoStracco and McTamney sandwiched buckets around a jumper by Swarthmore's Zac O'Dell to make it 26-20 at the 8:33 mark, and the visitors still led by four when senior Remi Janicot knocked down his second 3-pointer of the season with 3:01 to go in the frame.
Ursinus went scoreless for the rest of the half, however, allowing the Garnet to knot the score at the break and eventually regain the lead on a trey by Zack Yonda on the first possession of the second stanza. Swarthmore led by five before a basket by sophomore Shane Stark and a three-point play from junior Matt Williams evened the spread at 44 with 13:13 to go.
After McTamney's lay-in tied it one last time at 46, the Bears were held without a point for the next four minutes, and although Swarthmore managed only four points during that span, the home side never trailed again.
Quattro's lay-up off a feed from McTamney made it 55-53 with 3:57 left, and Ursinus got a stop on the other end. But Yonda stepped in front of a pass and scored with a foul to give the Garnet a five-point lead. Quattro's third 3 sliced the margin back to two before Ingram's response sealed it for Swarthmore.
The Bears held Swarthmore, which came in averaging a CC-best 89.5 points per game, to 22 below its usual output, and limited Cam Wiley – the defending CC Player of the Year and an All-American a year ago – to five points on 1-for-12 shooting. The Garnet shot just 39.3 percent for the night, but ten 3-pointers were enough to swing the balance in their favor.
Yonda and O'Dell led Swarthmore with 13 points each, while Conor Harkins drilled four 3s off the bench for a critical 12 points. Nate Shafer scored six points and grabbed a game-high ten rebounds.
Led by McTamney and Stark (eight points, seven rebounds), Ursinus played the Garnet – fifth in the nation in rebounding margin – to a virtual draw on the glass, surrendering the slimmest 35-34 margin.
The Bears came in averaging 10.3 3-pointers per game, but managed less than half of that. Junior Eric Williams Jr., fourth in the country at 5.17 treys per game, went 0-for-4 to snap a streak of 22 consecutive games with at least one.
Ursinus now takes a month off from conference play. The Bears are next in action at Scranton on Tuesday, December 19.