COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. – For 30 minutes, the Ursinus College men's basketball team was in lockstep with visiting Haverford, neither side able to gain separation. But the Bears uncorked an 11-0 spurt midway through the second half and kept the pesky Fords at arm's length from there to secure an 83-76 Centennial Conference triumph. Senior guard Malik Draper scored a season-high 19 points for Ursinus, which shot a sizzling 75 percent (15 of 20) in the second half to snap a three-game losing streak.
Ursinus (7-9, 3-6) established a season high for field-goal percentage (.569), assisted on 22 of its 29 buckets, and matched a season low for turnovers with nine. The Bears needed every bit of that efficiency and second-half swagger to put away a Haverford (2-13, 0-8) squad that played much better than its record.
The two sides went back and forth in a tight affair featuring 12 ties and five lead changes. The Fords took their last lead at 60:59 on a 3-pointer by Kahlil Garnes, who matched Draper with 19 points of his own, at the 10:17 mark. That's when Ursinus took control.
A put-back by Draper off a missed free throw put Ursinus in front for good at 62-60 and keyed the run that finally afforded the home team some breathing room. Freshman swingman Matt Williams buried a baseline jumper off an inbounds play before Brian Rafferty scored inside and then set up classmate Joseph LoStracco for a reverse lay-up that made it 68-60 with 7:01 remaining.
Draper's baseline drive capped the 11-0 spurt and extended the advantage to double digits, but the pesky Fords quickly halved the margin on a 3-pointer by Walt Plumlee and a turnaround jumper out of the hands of Henry Stevens. The Bears went inside to seal the deal, Janicot scoring six points during a 10-4 run that put the home side up by a dozen, 81-69, with just over a minute remaining.
Draper added four rebounds and four assists to his stat line. LoStracco had an impressive all-around performance, scoring 14 points to go with a career high-tying five assists, four blocks, and four boards. Janicot scored 12 of his 14 after halftime and grabbed six caroms, while Matt Williams nailed three 3-pointers to finish with a season-high 11 points. Senior guard Mark Wonderling produced seven points, six rebounds, and a pair of steals for Ursinus, which held a 38-10 advantage in the paint.
Stevens finished with 16 points for the Fords, while Plumlee added 12 and Joe Scibelli recorded a double-double with ten points and ten rebounds. Haverford made 12 of 25 (48 percent) from beyond the arc to stay close the whole way.
Despite coming in winless in conference play, the Fords hung in early, staying even or in front of Ursinus for the first nine minutes and change until the Bears took their first lead at 19-16 on a 3-pointer by freshman guard Matt Margolis. That ignited a 7-0 run that looked to have the home side pulling away, but the Fords had other ideas.
Haverford began to catch fire from the outside, Garnes wrapping a pair of 3-pointers around one by Scibelli to put the visitors back in front, 28-26, at the 6:43 mark of the period. The Fords stretched their lead out to five three times, the last on a triple by Jeremy Evans, before Ursinus scored the last four points of the half to cut the deficit to 38-37, LoStracco's layup on a feed from Draper just beating the halftime buzzer to pull the Bears within one at the break.
LoStracco was the focal point of the Ursinus offense in the first half; the big man scored 10 points and dished out four assists to facilitate an 18-4 advantage in the paint. He also had three rejections in a span of two possessions early in the contest. The Bears assisted on 12 of their 14 first-half field goals and committed only four turnovers.
The teams traded deep treys to open the second half on a barrage, with Janicot, freshman guard Eric Williams, and Matt Williams answering those by Stevens and Plumlee to bring about a 46-all deadlock.
The Bears took the lead at 49-48 on a free throw by Draper, and LoStracco hit a cutting Mark Wonderling on a perfectly executed give-and-go to force a Haverford timeout with 13:32 to play. Two more ties and another lead change followed before Ursinus separated itself with that 11-0 burst.
Ursinus welcomes Washington College to Helfferich Hall for a Centennial Conference contest scheduled for Saturday, January 23.