By Brian Klose
Elm Staff Writer
The Washington College Men’s Basketball team opened up their regular season as participants in the Division III Hampton Inn Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in Cresson, Pa. The Shoremen looked to start their season on a high note, but fell short in a close 72-68 loss to host school Mount Aloysius College. WC also lost their consolation game the next afternoon 68-59 to Juniata College. Junior forward Dave Knox led the Shoremen in scoring and rebounds through both matchups and had a career best 21-point performance against Aloysius. The loss to Juniata was WC’s ninth straight, carrying over from the previous season.
The Mount Aloysius Mounties, who were also opening their season, controlled much of the first half, leading 44-33 at the end of the period after seven consecutive points and an impressive 74 percent field goal percentage. Senior guard and team co-captain Sean Brooks was the leading scorer for WC with nine points. The Shoremen only committed two turnovers in the half while forcing the Mounties to give away the ball 10 times.
The Mounties would extend their lead to a game-high 13-point lead early in the second half, but WC would not let up. A 15-2 rally, including seven straight points, brought the Shoremen back into the game with less than seven minutes remaining in regulation. A crucial three-pointer from Knox, who led over all scorers in the second half, evened the score 66-66 with four minutes remaining before a tight back and forth struggle took place in the final minutes. A foul against Knox allowed the Mounties to take and convert two free throws, giving Aloysius the lead for good with a minute and a half remaining. Brooks attempted a potential game-tying three-pointer in the final seconds but failed to convert.
The Shoremen had much to take away from the close loss, including the solid advantage in turnovers committed, 5-18. But a poor overall shooting percentage of just 33 percent left much to be desired on the offensive side of the court. And with back-to-back games, there was little time for preparation and addressing the shortcomings of the team’s nail-biting loss to Aloysius.
The Shoremen looked to get back on track in the tournament consolation game against the Juniata Eagles. After an evenly matched first half effort, the two teams entered the second half with a 33-33 tie until a surge from the Eagles put them ahead 52-40 over the Shoremen with seven minutes to go. The lead would be cut to 58-56 after a six-point surge capped off by a free throw from junior forward and co-captain Pat Morgan. A flurry of fouls on both teams within the final minutes, however, gave the Eagles the opportunity to capitalize on WC’s mistakes and cement their lead and eventual 68-59 win.