Men’s basketball blows double-digit lead to crosstown rival, falls to 1-1

| Senior Sports Editor

The Washington University men’s basketball played the first road game of head coach Pat Juckem’s tenure, dropping a midweek nightcap to Webster University 72-64. The Bears led by 10 midway through the first half before being outscored by 12 in the second Wednesday in nearby Webster Groves, Mo.

Hank Hunter takes a jump shot in the Bears’ season opener against Illinois College. In Wash. U.’s second game of 2018, they gave up a 10-point lead and lost to Webster University, 72-64.Grace Bruton | Student Life

Hank Hunter takes a jump shot in the Bears’ season opener against Illinois College. In Wash. U.’s second game of 2018, they gave up a 10-point lead and lost to Webster University, 72-64.

The two teams spent the first few minutes of the game feeling each other out to 6-6 before the Red and Green went on a 9-0 run courtesy of five points by sophomore guard Jack Nolan, including a three-pointer and a run-capping layup. Both teams went into a lull at 15-6, combining to go 0-for-3 with five turnovers in a chaotic two-minute stretch

After the Gorloks broke the tension with a bucket, Nolan fired another three to give the Red and Green a 10-point lead just under eight minutes in. The Gorloks answered with one of their own, to which Nolan tried to invoke his hot hand. Attempting to make it 3-for-3 from downtown, Nolan missed, instead inducing another cold streak from both teams.

Neither team bucketed a field goal over the next three minutes of action, after which Webster went on an eight-point run highlighted by a pair of threes to make it a brand-new ballgame at 21 apiece. In a game of runs, though, Wash. U. went on another to re-extend the lead to 31-23, topped off by junior guard Matt Nester’s first three of the evening. Nester would hit another to make it 34-29 towards the end of the half.

That was it for the Red and Green’s allotment of triples, however. They finished 4-for-18 from beyond the arc, Nolan’s and Nester’s two each accounting for the only makes. That theme doomed Wash. U. on this evening––their counterparts were far more efficient from outside, going 7-for-13, including a perfect 4-of-4 performance from guard Josh Johnson.

Free throws were another detriment, of course. The Gorloks sunk 9-of-11 while the Bears got to the line far more frequently—18 times—but hit just 12. Junior center Hank Hunter, however, nailed a pair in the final seconds of the first to send the Bears to the locker room up, 38-34.

In the opening minutes of the second half, Wash. U. asserted itself again, building the lead back up to eight. The two jostled for the early portion of the final 20, Webster getting as close as one point off with Wash. U. unable to open a gap.

Things came to a head around the 10-minute mark of the final period. With Wash. U. up five, the Gorloks sank a layup, forced a turnover and banged a three to tie the game, then stole one from the arms of Nester and deposited another layup to take a 53-51 lead in a flash.

The teams engaged in a back-and-forth yet again to 55-55, but at this point, it was Webster ready to take off and create separation. The Gorloks opened up a seven-point advantage with under three minutes to go. Wash. U. got back in striking range with a personal 5-2 run by Nolan––the Bears’ top scorer converted a three-point play then sank two free throws to bring the Bears within four.

The Bears got the stop necessary and handed the ball to junior guard Jonathan Arenas for two free throws. Arenas, 3-for-3 from the charity stripe on the night to that point, bricked both, effectively ending Wash. U.’s last best chance at leveling the contest. Arenas missed another pair in the final minute, while Webster clinched the game with its own closing free throws.

Wash. U., now 1-1, returns home for a tough matchup with No. 19 Illinois Wesleyan University Tuesday.