CHESTERTOWN, Md. – Lights-out shooting in the first half and 40 minutes of domination on the glass proved a winning formula for the Ursinus College men's basketball team, which picked up its first Centennial Conference victory of the season with an 85-74 triumph at Washington College. Sophomore forward Joseph LoStracco (Chalfton, Pa./Archbishop Wood) finished with game highs of 19 points and nine rebounds for the Bears, who rode a 46-20 rebounding surplus to their first win inside the Cain Athletic Center since 2012.
The last time Ursinus left Chestertown with a victory, it needed a miraculous buzzer-beating 3-pointer to eke past the Shoremen. The Bears required no such heroics this time, thanks in large part to a red-hot first half in which they shot 60.6 percent from the field (20 of 33).
Senior guard Malik Draper (Scranton, Pa./Scranton) netted 11 of his 17 points in the first stanza, which saw Ursinus (5-6, 1-3) fall into an early 6-0 hole as Washington College (2-7, 0-3) knocked down its first two 3-point attempts of the night. But the Bears countered with ten consecutive points, five of them from junior guard Matt Knowles (Waverly, Pa./Scranton).
The teams were locked at 36-all with 5:36 to play in the first half when the Bears forged ahead, sophomore guard Brian Rafferty (Harleysville, Pa./Lansdale Catholic) hitting a trey in the closing seconds to cap a 15-3 run and hand the visitors a 51-39 lead at the break. The Shoremen, always tough at home, pushed back to within 62-57 at the 9:16 mark of the second half, but Knowles scored four consecutive points – seven total – during a 12-4 spurt topped off by a 3-pointer from freshman guard Eric Williams (Plainfield, N.J./Hun School) that delivered a 74-61 cushion with 6:48 left. Washington College got within single digits just once from there as Ursinus polished off its third straight victory.
Knowles finished with 18 points on 8-of-14 shooting and added five assists for Ursinus, which shot 52.5 percent (32 of 61) on the evening. Williams, the CC leader in 3-pointers made, hit four more to contribute 12 points and stretch his league-leading total to 35.
LoStracco was 8 of 11 from the floor in another efficient performance for the second-year forward, who is shooting 70 percent (28 of 40) over his last five outings. Draper complemented his 17 points with seven rebounds, four assists, and a steal.
Senior guard Mark Wonderling (Lederach, Pa./Souderton Area) paired six points with eight rebounds, Rafferty stuffed the box score with four points, a career-high eight rebounds, and seven assists, and sophomore forward Remi Janicot (Paris, France/Hun School) chipped in with nine points. The Bears grabbed 14 offensive boards against the CC's worst rebounding team (-8.1 margin coming in), which was playing its first home game of the season, and handed out 24 assists on 32 made baskets. Ursinus' victory was just the second in its last eight trips to Washington College.
Kevin McCormick led the Shoremen with 12 points off the bench, with Pat Morgan adding 11 and Tas Dixon joining them in double figures with ten. No Washington College player collected more than four rebounds, a mark reached by five different Bears. Ursinus enjoyed a 48-20 advantage in the paint.
Ursinus returns to Collegeville for a CC showdown with McDaniel College. Tip is slated for 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 9.