By Andrew Chirico
After a tough start to the new year, the Washington College Men’s Basketball team picked up their first victory of 2016 and earned their first conference victory after defeating host Johns Hopkins 86-80 on Jan. 27. The team then hosted Gettysburg on Saturday, Jan. 30 which resulted in a 79-61 loss.
WC’s road victory was not ordinary. Head Coach Aaron Goodman found himself stuck with playing small, playing four to five guards for most of the game due to the absence of senior forwards Dave Knox and Pat Morgan. Goodman also found himself relying on his freshman, playing three of them for at least 19 minutes each.
The Shoremen outshot the Blue Jays jumping to a quick 25-9 lead within the first nine minutes. Freshman guard Kevin McCormick contributed three straight three pointers to WC’s early success. The Blue Jays went on a 23-6 run of their own and built a five point lead at halftime.
The Blue Jays got ahead in the second half, leading 70-62 with under eight minutes to play. WC then went on a 9-1 run led by junior guard James Drury and freshman guard Brandon Berry. Following the Shoremen comeback, the offense continued to find success from Drury, Berry, and sophomore guard Tas Dixon. All three contributed the only points in the final six and a half minutes. The final stretch of play from these three helped WC pull out the win.
Drury had a career high 26 points while Tixon contributed 17 points and seven assists. Two freshman standouts included McCormick with 15 points and Berry who had eight points and five rebounds. Drury felt this game contributed a boost in confidence for the entire team. “This was obviously a huge win for us. Hopkins is a great team, and the fact that we could take them down on their own court should prove to us that we can compete with anyone in the conference if we play hard and with confidence.”
“I’m humbled that my coaches and teammates were able to trust me enough to play and have an impact in such a big game and victory,” said Berry. “Everybody that played contributed and elevated our team and impacted the game in a positive way.”
The season high 86 points provided several benefits on both sides of the ball for WC. Goodman explained how playing a smaller lineup created some challenges for Johns Hopkins. “Playing a smaller, quicker lineup created some mismatches for them. Scoring also allowed us to change defensive looks in attempt to keep them off balance. Our guys shared the ball, we had multiple stops in a row, and were able to play in transition where I think we are most effective.”
The Shoremen had a hard time bringing over the momentum versus Gettysburg on Saturday. The visiting Bullets started out with a 17-4 lead, eventually growing to a 37-28 margin heading into the half. The second half did not present WC any better luck. Scoring just 61 points with 13 turnovers contributed to the conference loss on Saturday.
Drury led the team with 11 points followed by Berry and Dixon who both contributed 10. The bench came up with 27 points, which allowed for Goodman to consistently get fresh legs in the game without losing any positive momentum.
WC will be back in action this Saturday versus Centennial Conference opponent Dickinson for a 4 p.m. showdown following the WC Women’s Basketball game versus Dickinson at 2 p.m. at the Cain Athletic Center.