ALFRED, N.Y. – Despite a 10-point lead at halftime, Alfred State College outscored the Express by a 40-to-29 margin in the second half as the Wells College men's basketball team absorbed a 77-76 loss on the road Monday evening. Alfred State (1-7) picks up their first win in 14 games dating back to last season while Wells (0-4) remains winless in 2014-15.
Senior Jordan Jean (Englewood, N.J.) racked up a double-double for Wells, scoring 19 points and hauling in 12 rebounds on the day after a 15-for-18 performance from the free throw line. His 15 free throws made ties the program record set by Darrell Bullock '10, who poured home his free throws against Cazenovia on Feb. 22, 2009.
The Express were hot from three-point distance against Alfred State as the team poured home a season-best nine three-point baskets. Freshman MJ Williams (Riverview, Fla.) and sophomore Darius Smith (Lanham, Md.) each tallied three field goals from three-point land with the latter converting three-of-four attempts for a career-high 13 points.
The Express opened up a 47-37 halftime lead after shooting 13-for-28 from the field, including a 7-for-13 performance from three-point range. Wells also converted at the foul line through the first 20 minutes, shooting 14-for-16 from the charity stripe (87.5%). The Express concluded the half on an 18-to-9 run, highlighted by nine points from Jean during the final 5:25, to open up a game-high 12-point lead with only 17 seconds left in the half.
Despite a three-pointer from sophomore Chris Courtney (Auburn, N.Y.) to increase the Wells lead to 50-39 with only 30 seconds expired in the second half, Alfred State shrunk the deficit to two points, 60-58, following a Dan Gormley three-point basket with 12:02 left in regulation time.
Smith countered with a "three" of his own for the Express, but Alfred State went on to capture the lead after Tyler Elliott recorded a layup, a foul shot and a jumper, all in a row, to grant his team a 67-66 lead with 5:39 left in the second half. The Express kept the Pioneers at arm's length down the stretch, but the tables turned within the final 2:20 of regulation time.
Following a Jean free throw at 2:20 to create a 74-70 lead in favor of Wells, the Express allowed the hosts back into the game in the waning seconds of the game. Adam Fezza converted both foul shots after a Wells infraction with 1:52 left, cutting the Wells lead to two points. A costly turnover by a Wells player at 1:23 put the ball back in Alfred State's hands. Tommy Hutson's jumper with 1:07 left in regulation time tied the score at 74.
Wells missed a three-point basket with 49 seconds left in regulation time, but senior EZ Garcia (Cotulla, Texas) was there for the key offensive rebound. With possession, senior Jordan Bishop (Arlington, Texas) hit a clutch jump shot with only 13.7 seconds left on the clock to take a 76-74 lead.
Following an Alfred State timeout, Wells was forced to foul the Pioneers' Justin Wallace as he appeared to have a chance at a wide-open layup with five seconds remaining. Wallace converted the first foul shot but missed the second as the rebound spilled onto the hands of Hutson, who missed a layup. For the second time in as many seconds, Wells did not come up with the rebound as Wallace found redemption, putting back his own offensive board with no time left on the clock to give his team the narrow one-point victory.
Fezza and Elliott each recorded 15 points for Alfred State who outscored Wells by a 34-to-12 margin in the paint. Hutson posted 14 points for the Pioneers while both Jabar Williams and Fezza pulled down six rebounds to lead the team in that statistic.
Wells returns to action Wednesday, Dec. 3 as they face-off against Morrisville State College in an 8 p.m. contest on the road.