Strong Finish Leads Men's Basketball Past Washington College For First Win of Season, 87-82
SWARTHMORE, Pa. - Behind outstanding performances from junior Joe Keedy and freshman Seth Liebert, the Swarthmore College men's basketball team (1-6, 1-3) picked up its first victory of the 2012-13 season, defeating Washington College by a score of 87-82 on Wednesday evening from Tarble Pavilion.
Liebert finished with a team-high 24 points - including a clutch basket from the baseline to put Garnet ahead for good with 1:48 to play - and a team-high eight assists. Keedy recorded his second career double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Keedy's rebounding may have won the game for the Garnet in the final minute, as he was able to corral offensive rebounds on two separate missed shots to preserve the lead and the victory.
Washington College's Stephen Poarch led all scorers with 28 points while Kevin Cunningham added 11.
The victory marks the first career coaching win for rookie head coach Landry Kosmalski.
Both teams were in rhythm offensively, with the Garnet hitting 52 percent of its shots and Shoremen just behind at 51 percent. Washington College held a seven-point advantage (59-52) with just over 11 minutes to play in the game, but the combination of Liebert (10 points) and strong free-throw shooting (12-of-15) in the final 10 minutes was enough to give the Garnet a come-from-behind victory.
The game began at a torrid pace. The opening 10 minutes of play saw nothing but offense, as each team scored at will. With the each shooting at nearly a 60-percent clip, the Shoremen raced to 33-29 lead after just nine minutes of action.
The pace slowed considerably to close out the first half. Thanks to a three-pointer in transition from Kober and a drawn charge from Gates on the ensuing possession, Swarthmore headed to the locker room with a 44-42 lead.
Behind some deep three-pointers from Poarch, the Shoremen built a lead as large as seven points in the second half. With another tough home loss looming, Swarthmore battled back, playing some of its best basketball of the season over the final eight minutes of the game.
With just under three minutes to play and score tied 73-73, Liebert blew past a defender and found an open Gates in the paint, who connected on a fade away to put the Garnet ahead 75-73. Washington quickly tied it back up on its next possession, but Liebert came through again to put Swarthmore ahead for good. With the shot clock winding down, the freshman point guard drove the left baseline and hit a running lay-up to give the Garnet a 77-75 lead with 1:48 to go.
Following an empty possession from Washington, Swarthmore had the ball back up two (77-75) with under one minute to play. Gates put up a jumper in traffic, which was rebounded by Keedy. The junior went up strong, hit a lay-up and drew a foul, putting the Garnet ahead 79-75 with :34 seconds play and bringing the Tarble crowd its feet. He hit his free throw, making it a five-point game (80-75) with just over 30 seconds play.
The pesky Shoremen wouldn't go away, hitting a three-pointer on their next possession, but Keedy made sure the Garnet closed out its first victory of the season. He came up big on the offensive glass once again, pulling down a rebound after sophomore Karl Barkley missed the second of two free throws, ensuring the Garnet remained ahead two possessions. From there, Barkley iced the game at the line, hitting six-of-eight free throws to finish off the 87-82 win.
The Shoremen were white hot from behind the arc (11-of-22), but struggled mightily from the free-throw line (15-of-26).
Swarthmore returns to Centennial Conference action on Saturday with a trip to Gettysburg. Play is set to begin at 3:00 p.m.