LANCASTER, Pa. – The Ursinus College men's basketball team gave nationally ranked Franklin & Marshall everything it could handle in a Wednesday night Centennial Conference slugfest, but the Bears fell just a few plays short in an 80-77 setback.
Ursinus (13-7, 9-4) whittled a 12-point deficit with just over eight minutes remaining down to two on a pair of free throws by sophomore Ryan McTamney with 15 seconds to play, but the comeback ended there as Matthew Tate capped off a 35-point explosion with a pair of game-clinching free throws and a bucket just before the final horn.
Junior Eric Williams Jr. finished with a team-high 21 points for the Bears. He made five 3-pointers, the first of which made him the 14th player in CC history to hit 200 in a career.
Despite shooting 51.0 percent from the floor and making eight of its 16 attempts from beyond the arc, Ursinus had no answer for Tate, who willed the 23rd-ranked Diplomats (17-3, 11-2) to a season sweep with a career night. The senior point guard was 9 of 15 from the field and made all but one of his 14 free throws in addition to swiping five of F&M's 19 steals. The Bears turned it over 22 times, with Ignas Slyka nabbing seven steals for the home side.
Ursinus trailed 18-11 just six minutes into the contest but came right back with a 13-2 burst that included seven points from senior Zach Quattro, who capped it with a jumper at the 8:40 mark. The lead changed hands several times from there, until F&M gained some separation on a 3 by Tate just before the halftime buzzer and took a 42-36 edge into the break.
The Diplomats pulled ahead by double digits for the first time on a basket by Brandon Federici, who later became the school's all-time leading scorer, which gave the Blue and White a 50-39 lead with 17:37 to go.
The Bears ripped off a 9-0 run to get within two with 14:52 left, but F&M expanded the spread back out to 12 and still held a ten-point upper hand on J.C. McGrath's basket at the 3:46 mark.
Ursinus had one last push in it, getting within 73-70 on a free throw by Eric Williams with 1:18 to play. After a pair of free throws by McGrath, Quattro scored inside, and McTamney followed a foul shot by Justin Kupa with two of his own as the Bears made it 76-74. But the Diplomats inbounded to Tate, who came through with two clutch freebies to put the game away.
Quattro finished with 12 points for Ursinus, and Stark added 11 points and seven rebounds.
Senior Brian Rafferty scored five points - including a buzzer-beater from just inside mid-court at the end of the game - and handed out seven assists to pass Luther Owens '01 for fifth in CC history with 421.
The Bears head to the Eastern Shore for a matchup with Washington College on Saturday.