BOSTON, Mass. - A 13 point push in the final seven minutes of play was not enough as the Cardinals of Wesleyan University (Conn.) were able to hang on to defeat men's basketball by the final of 75-64 Saturday afternoon in the championship game of the 29th Annual UMass Boston Harbor Invitational in Clark Athletic Gymnasium.
For the Cardinals the title marks the second for the Cardinals in the history of the invitational. In 2002 Wesleyan defeated the Beacons in the championship 78-71. Saturday's win improved Wesleyan's overall record to 5-2, while UMass Boston fell to 3-2 following the tough loss.
Leading the charge for the Beacons in the closing minutes of the second half was All-Tournament selection Carl Joseph (Brockton, Mass.). Of the 13 points scored in the late rally, nine belonged to the junior forward. On the night, Joseph recorded a career-high 26 points in a team-leading 37 minutes of playing.
Fellow All-Tournament honoree Jerard Mayes (Boston, Mass.) also put together a strong game for the Beacons as he finished with 15 points and nine rebounds. He dropped in one lay-up during UMass Boston's rally, along with Selim Omerovic (Saugus, Mass.) who came off the bench to finish with six points and six rebounds. Defensively, Omerovic also finished with a career-best five steals in a combined 24 minutes of playing time.
The Beacons, who trailed by 16 at the half, struggled in the first 10 minutes of the second as Wesleyan extended their lead to a game-high 19 points. However once UMass was able to find their rhymthm the momentum of the contest started to shift back to the home team. At the 9:51 mark, Wesleyan was still in control leading by 12.
However Joseph would begin to lead his team offensive as he dropped in a pair of free throws to go along with a jumper to make a 10-point affair (49-59) with 8:34 left. The Cardinals did maintain their double-figure lead for about another minute but with a five point shift, all coming from Joseph the Beacons trailed by just seven (56-63) with 6:20 remaining.
Wesleyan would keep their distance thanks in part to solid free throw shooting and key baskets from Glen Thomas and Harry Rafferty. An Omerovic lay-up with 4:50 left to play made it just a six point affair, but with five Beacons turnovers in the final four minutes, the Cardinals were able to pushed their lead back to double-figures and earn the victory.
Tournament MVP Rashid Epps finished with 10 points and four boards, while All-Tournament selection BJ Davis dropped in a team-leading 14 points and came-up with four steals and handed out three assists. Also earning a spot on the All-Tournament team was Rrahiem Smalls from the College of St. Josephs in Vermont and Sean Duffy from Emerson College. Emerson defeated St. Joseph in the consolation game by the score of 80-74.
Men's Basketball returns to action on Tuesday when they host MIT at 7:30 p.m.