MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – Freshman guard Austin Hutcherson dropped 33 points on 13-of-17 shooting while going 7-of-9 from downtown to help guide the No. 15 Wesleyan University men's basketball team to a decisive 101-71 win over Southern Vermont in the first round of the NCAA Division III Championships Friday night in Silloway Gym.
The Cardinals' (22-6) win marked their first-ever NCAA Tournament victory as they advance to the second round to play No. 14 Swarthmore (23-5) at 7 p.m. tomorrow, March 3. The Garnet defeated New England College earlier in the night, 90-63. Southern Vermont's season comes to a close following the loss as the Mountaineers end the 2017-18 campaign with a 22-6 record.
Wesleyan was lights out Friday night, hitting 14-of-31 from deep including 9-of-16 in the second half. For the game, the Cardinals shot 53.6-percent (37-69) from the floor as they totaled their second-highest scoring output of the season.
FIRST HALF HIGHLIGHTS:
- The Mountaineers came out hot to start the game and jumped out to a 6-0 lead following a jumper by senior Claude Payne.
- However, the Cardinals responded with a 14-0 run which included two fast-break dunks by Hutcherson. The freshman scored nine points during the run.
- A pair of free throws by freshman Antone Walker at the 13:13 mark gave the home team a 10 point lead, up 20-10, but Southern Vermont scored nine of the next 12 points to get within three by the 10:46 mark.
- After some back-and-forth action, the Cardinals pulled away late in the half. Leading 38-35 with 4:26 to play, Wesleyan outscored the Mountaineers 15-3 down the stretch as a lay-up by senior JR Bascom with :03 on the clock gave Wesleyan a 53-38 halftime lead.
- Hutcherson scored 22 points in the first 20 minutes of action, while Mike Pierre led Southern Vermont with 11.
SECOND HALF HIGHLIGHTS:
- It was all Wesleyan in the second half. Pierre scored just 13 seconds in, but the Cardinals rallied with a 16-2 run capped off by a layup by Bascom off a dish from Hutcherson. Wesleyan hit four 3-pointers during the stretch—two by Hutcherson and two by junior Jordan Bonner—including an emphatic put-back dunk by Jordan Sears '18.
- Following the run, the Cardinals held a 69-42 lead with 16:23 to play.
- Southern Vermont rallied with a 7-0 run capped off by a layup from Payne, but Wesleyan quickly regained a 27-point advantage with 11:43 remaining.
- The Cardinals led by as much as 33 with 7:36 on the clock as they cruised to the commanding victory in front of a packed Silloway Gym.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- Wesleyan pulled in twice as many rebounds as the Mountaineers, claiming a 50-25 advantage on the boards. Despite the loss, Southern Vermont shot 44.4-percent (28-63) from the floor.
- Four players scored in double-figures for the Cardinals. Senior Nathan Krill posted a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Bonner added 13 points and Bascom dropped 10. Bascom also corralled nine boards and recorded five assists. In addition to his 33 points, Hutcherson also dished out a game-high six dimes, while pulling in six rebounds and recording two steals.
- Payne and Pierre led the Mountaineers with 18 points each on 8-of-16 and 8-of-15 shooting, respectively. Payne also grabbed a team-high six rebounds while Josh Borders led the team in assists with three.