WASHINGTON D.C. – The Ursinus College men's basketball team battled in a close matchup with Marymount (Va.) on Friday night, ultimately coming away with a 67-66 victory at the Holiday Inn College Park Classic hosted by Catholic University.
The victory marked No. 250 for head coach Kevin Small. Small is the sixth coach in Centennial Conference history to reach the milestone. He joins two active bosses in Franklin & Marshall's Glenn Robinson and Gettysburg's George Petrie, in addition to Johns Hopkins' Bill Nelson, Muhlenberg's Dave Madeira, and Washington College's Tom Finnegan.
The Bears struck first in the game, thanks to a 3-pointer from junior Eric Williams Jr., who sank the basket just 20 seconds into the matchup. After that, the Saints opened things up, putting together a 9-1 run, pulling to a 9-4 lead.
Ursinus (5-4, 2-2) tied the game at nine by way of a pair of free throws from Remi Janicot followed by another 3-pointer from Williams, who hit two of his first four attempts from behind the arc. It was back-and-forth throughout the rest of the first half, as both sides traded buckets. Junior Matt Williams made a 3-pointer of his own after sophomore Ryan McTamney sank a pair of foul shots. The two squads found themselves tied at 18 with 7:48 to go in the half following a jumper from sophomore Shane Stark.
Eric Williams continued his hot shooting to close out the first frame, sinking a jumper to tie the ballgame at 20 before putting the Bears up 26-25 with 1:32 on the clock with another 3-pointer. He hit 4-of-6 from the field through the first quarter, including 3-of-5 3-pointers. Stark found space in the paint to lay in a basket thanks to a nifty pass from junior Zach Muredda with five seconds to go, tying the game at 28. The Saints (3-7) hit a deep 3-pointer at the buzzer to go ahead 31-28 through the first half.
The Saints opened the second half by building a 10-point lead at 39-29. The Bears didn't let the run get to them, as they responded by manufacturing a run of their own. Stark and Rafferty each made a bucket before senior Zach Quattro sank a 3-pointer, bringing the Bears to within three, 41-38.
McTamney and Muredda teamed up as the Bears came back and tied the game midway through the second half. McTamney sank a free throw to bring the game to 51-49 in favor of Marymount. He'd make a layup followed by a jumper before Muredda made another pass to Janicot, who slammed home a dunk. Muredda would later hit a jumper to bring the game to 58-58.
Janicot made a pair of buckets as the two teams traded points before McTamney gave the Bears a 63-62 lead with a free throw with 4:19 on the clock. Janicot extended the lead to three with a layup, making it a 65-62 contest.
Muredda came up big in the final two minutes, as the junior drove and put in a left-handed layup to give the Bears a 67-64 with 1:48 to go. Muredda would pick off a Saints pass with 1:26 left to take more time off the clock. He followed that up with a huge rebound on the defensive end to set up Eric Williams at the foul line. The Saints intentionally fouled him with 19 seconds to go. He'd miss the first attempt in a 1-and-1 one chance.
Marymount's Dimitri Rucker drove and sank a layup with five seconds to go, putting the score at 67-66. McTamney was fouled on the inbound, sending him to the line. He'd miss both free throws, giving the Saints a last-second heave, which did not fall.
Four Bears reached double-figures in scoring, with Janicot, Eric Williams and McTamney each recording a dozen. Stark recorded his second double-double of the season, adding 13 rebounds to his 10 points.
Ursinus, as a whole squad, was lights-out from the field, hitting 51 percent of its shots, including a 35.7-percent (5-of-14) game from beyond the arc. Muredda finished with six each of points, assists and rebounds off the bench, adding a team-leading three steals just for good measure.
The Bears are slated to play the host Cardinals Saturday night at 7 p.m. before heading to Rosemont on January 3 to open 2018. Their next game in Collegeville comes January 9 vs. Dickinson.