Wesleyan to Play Union College in NCAA First Round Action

Wesleyan to Play Union College in NCAA First Round Action

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – For the second time in the past three years, the Wesleyan University men's basketball team is headed to the NCAA Division III Championships. The Cardinals, with a 19-6 overall record, earned their first-ever at-large bid into the tournament and will play Union College (16-10) – the Liberty League Champions – this Friday, March 3 at 5:30 p.m.

The University of Rochester (21-4) will serve as the host for the First and Second Rounds, and will play Albertus Magnus College (23-4) at 7:30 p.m., following the conclusion of Wesleyan/Union. The winners of the First Round games will meet Saturday, March 4 at 7 p.m.


Wesleyan and Union are no strangers, having met 60 times since the 1911-12 campaign, however the two teams have played each other just once in the past 11 seasons. The most recent game was a year ago, in which the Cardinals led by as much as 17 points on the road. The Hawks didn't back down easily though, and rallied in the second half to take a four-point lead with 4:10 remaining. Wesleyan regained its composure and would go on to outscore Union 14-6 down the stretch to hold on for the 81-77 victory. Union, however, does have a lead in the all-time series, 32-28.

Schedule * Roster * Stats

In 2014-15, the Cardinals won the NESCAC Championship to earn its first-ever NCAA Tournament bid. Despite posting an 18-7 overall record a year ago, Wesleyan missed out on an at-large bid but came back stronger this season to finish 19-6 overall, en route to its second postseason tournament appearance in program history. This year's team prides itself on its defense, which ranks second in all of Division III in field-goal percentage (35.0). Additionally, the Cardinals are holding opponents to a mere 29.6% from three-point range to rank ninth in the country. Wesleyan also boasts a formidable rebounding unit that ranks third in the nation in defensive rebounds per game (31.72) and 11th in total rebounds per game (44.76).

A well-balanced attack is led by its two senior class members, Harry Rafferty and Joseph Kuo. Rafferty, a Second Team All-NESCAC selection, currently leads the team in scoring with 12.6 points per game. The senior reached the 1,000-point milestone earlier this season, becoming the 23rd Wesleyan player to ever do so, and has stepped up in big moments for the Cardinals all season. Kuo has been a dominant presence downlow throughout his career, and is averaging 12.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game.

Nine players on this young Wesleyan team average at least 13 minutes per game. In addition to the senior leaders, Rafferty and Kuo, the team's sophomore class has excelled. Jordan Bonner leads the group with 12.4 points per game, while Salim Green averages 10.1. Kevin O'Brien, who has started every game this season, does a little bit of everything for Head Coach Joe Reilly's team. The Tucson, Ariz. native is averaging 8.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.1 blocks per game. Reilly, in his ninth season at the helm of the program, has brought Wesleyan into national prominence in recent years.

SCOUTING UNION (16-10, 10-6 Liberty League)
Schedule * Roster * Stats

Union is making its fourth NCAA Tournament appearance, and first since the 2004-05 season, after winning the Liberty League Championship. The Hawks won a double-overtime thriller over St. Lawrence in the semifinals before defeating Hobart for the title, 71-67. They are riding a four-game winning streak entering Friday's matchup.

Four players average a double-double for Union, who is led by senior guard Deshon Burgess. An All-League First Team selection, Burgess ranks third in the Liberty League in scoring and sixth in rebounding with 7.0 boards per game. He is joined by fellow captain and classmate, Wade McNamara. McNamara leads the conference in rebounding (10.2 rpg) and ranks 11th in the country in defensive rebounds per game (8.63). He also averages 15.6 points per game, while Greg King and Kevin Weckworth each average 10.4 per contest.








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