MBB: Second Half Surge Pushes Cougars to 90-81 Win in NEWMAC Opener

Photo by Katie Morrison
Photo by Katie Morrison

WORCESTER, Mass. – Led by a game-high 24 points and seven assists from junior Biko Gayman (Fort Pierce, Fla.), the Clark University men's basketball team surged to a 90-81 victory over Wheaton in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) opener on Wednesday night at the Kneller Athletic Center.

The Basics

Score: Cougars 90, Lyons 81

Records: Clark University (6-6, 1-0 NEWMAC) | Wheaton College (5-6, 0-1 NEWMAC)

How it Happened

Gayman continued his strong play of late, notching his 12th consecutive game of double-figure scoring on an efficient 8-for-12 shooting from the field with a trio of three-pointers while pulling down five rebounds.

Junior co-captain Tyler Davern (Webster, Mass.) tallied his fifth double-double of the season with his game-high 14 rebounds and 15 points. Sophomore Joel Arteaga (Wyncote, Pa.) rounded out the double-figure scorers for the team, knocking down 4-of-8 from three-point range to finish with 16 points and three rebounds in 28 minutes.

For Wheaton, senior Alex DuBrow registered a team-high 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting while adding five assists and five rebounds. First-years Aaron Williams and Alex Carlisle picked up 12 and 11 points respectively while Evan Cook led all bench scorers with 13 points for the Lyons.  

Clark University jumped out to an early 8-4 lead as Arteaga and Charles Stevens (Bronx, N.Y.) canned consecutive three-pointers to get the offense started. Minutes later, Stevens knocked down another, this one from the corner, to give the Cougars a 13-9 advantage through the opening five minutes of play.

With 12:41 to go in the half, the Cougars gained a 24-18 lead following back-to-back three-pointers from Gayman and Anthony Grzembski (Webster, Mass.). The teams went onto trade baskets before triples from Williams and Carlisle bookended a 10-2 spurt to give the Lyons possession of a 32-30 margin.

Despite a strong push from the Cougars in the final 7:04 of the half, including a slam from Leo Okonya (Manchester, Conn.) to register his first collegiate points, Wheaton kept an arm's length on the scoreboard with a 42-39 lead going into the halftime break.

Wheaton built its lead up to nine points following the intermission as a layup from Dubrow sparked a 6-2 scoring run for the Lyons early in the half. But the Cougars fought back, starting with a three-pointer by Gayman and another from Davern on the next trip down the court with 17:31 to go. With the game locked at 52-52, the Cougars jumped ahead on a triple from Zackary Mittelstadt (Wilton, Maine.) which ignited a 9-3 burst for the host for a 61-55 lead. 

Clark kept the momentum going with the team draining five three-pointers down the stretch in the final ten minutes of regulation, with Arteaga connecting from the corner on consecutive possessions for an 84-71 lead with 2:41 remaining. Wheaton led the scoring 10-6 in the final minutes before the buzzer sounded on the 90-81 final score. The Cougars outscored the Lyons by a 51-39 margin during the second half to pave way for the NEWMAC victory.  

The Cougars shot 33-for-67 from the field (49.3%) and finished with a 15-for-35 clip from three-point range (42.9%). Wheaton ended 27-for-58 shooting (45.8%) while knocking down 8-of-20 from beyond the arc (38.1%). The Lyon maintained a slight edge on the glass, 38-37, while also leading points in the paint by a 32-26 clip. 

Up Next:

The Cougars remain home on Saturday, January 11 when reigning NEWMAC champion Emerson comes to the Kneller Center for a 1:00 pm tilt.