AURORA, N.Y. – The Wells College men's basketball team picked up the 100th victory in its eight-year history as a varsity sport on Sunday as the Express defeated Penn St.-Abington by an 81-80 margin in double-overtime. Wells moves to 6-8 overall on the year and to 4-3 within the North Eastern Athletic Conference. The Nittany Lions (3-11, 3-4 NEAC) have lost 11-of-14 games on the year.
Since debuting as a varsity program on Nov. 15, 2008, the Express have racked up 100 victories to date. Under the direction of Head Coach Joe Wojtylko for all eight seasons of the team's competition, the men's basketball team is the first men's sport at Wells to reach the century mark in total victories and only the sixth varsity program in school history to reach that milestone.
Wojtylko also becomes the first Head Coach in school history to reach 100 coaching wins in a single sport.
Competing in the first-ever double-overtime contest in team history, Wells was led by freshman Rich Ross (Bronx, N.Y.) who scored 30 points while hauling in a team-leading 13 rebounds. Junior James Feocco (Auburn, N.Y.) earned a double-double, scoring 19 points and picking up 11 rebounds, while classmate Vaughndell Brantley (Syracuse, N.Y.) posted 16 points and 11 boards for his second career double-double.
Trailing by a 77-74 margin with 2:34 remaining in the second overtime stanza, Wells cut its deficit to only one point, 77-76, following a Ross layup with only 91 seconds left. A missed three-point attempt by Penn St.-Abington was hauled in by sophomore MJ Williams (Tampa, Fla.), who brought the ball up the court. Fouled with only 41 seconds left, Ross buried both free throw attempts to elevate his team to its final lead of the afternoon, 78-77.
With time ticking away, the Nittany Lions missed a layup with only 10 seconds left and Ross fought his way through the crowd for a very important defensive rebound. After a Penn St.-Abington foul, Ross made the first of two attempts and, following a scrum, the ball caromed out of bounds off of a Nittany Lions player.
Penn St.-Abington, down 79-77 with only four seconds left, was forced to foul Feocco off of the inbounds play and his two free throw conversions added insurance for Wells, who led by an 81-77 margin. Not wanting to foul the Nittany Lions down the stretch, Dequan Jackson made an uncontested "three" at the horn to give the Express an 81-80 victory in double-overtime.
Wells led by as many as 12 points in the first half alone, using a Ross three-point basket to cap an 11-0 run for the Express that spanned 3:36 from 8:19 to 4:43 of the opening half. The Nittany Lions, however, battled back by outscoring Wells by a 21-to-8 margin in the first 7:42 of the second half to pick up a 47-45 lead after a Yusef Savage layup in the paint.
With the score tied at 63 with only 1:09 left in regulation time, a long three-point basket by Feocco put the Express ahead with 48 ticks left on the scoreboard. Jackson, however, countered with a three-pointer of his own to force the game into overtime.
Each team scored only four points in the first overtime period. Brantley poured home two free throws before Devin Jones tied the game at 68 with 2:47 left in the first overtime frame. A mid-range jumper by Williams propelled the Express into the lead, but a layup from Jones forced the Express into yet another overtime period, tied at 70.
Jackson led Penn St.-Abington with 40 points, the most-ever scored against the Wells men's basketball team in the team's history. He shot 16-for-25 from the floor and reeled in 11 rebounds. Savage and Jones scored 20 and 14 points, respectively, with the former collecting a team-best 12 rebounds.
Wells begins a four-game road stretch on Saturday, Jan. 23 as it travels to Lancaster Bible College for a 1 p.m. contest against the Chargers.