M. Basketball determined to be successful this season

In pursuit of their best season in recent years, the Colby’s men’s basketball team has gotten off to a strong start. After several years of rebuilding under head coach Damien Strahorn ’02, the Mules were set back last season when a few of their top players suffered season-ending injuries. With the team’s continued growth, veteran core and perseverance, however, the 2015-16 season has solid potential to be the bounce-back year they have been waiting for.

The team opened their season at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute tournament on the weekend of November 20. Their first game ended in a disappointing 98-92 overtime loss against the College of Staten Island. The Mules led by more than 20 points early in the second half, but Staten Island’s fourth quarter run forced the game into overtime. Colby briefly led by a basket in the beginning of the five-minute period, but was not able to hold the lead, and the men ultimately came up six points short. Ryan Jann ’16 totalled a team-high 24 points in the matchup.

In the consolation game the next day, the Mules came out with a more desirable result and dominated Curry College 102-88. After leading for most of the first half, Colby went down by a few points before the break. They were able to come back, however, and took a 42-41 lead to the locker room. Curry attained its last lead of the day with 18:10 left in regulation, and the Mules gradually drew further and further ahead, ultimately topping the Colonels by 14 points. Chris Hudnut ’16 led Colby with an incredible 38 points, going 14-for-20 in shooting from the field and 10-for-11 on free throws. Jann finished with 22 points and five assists, and Luke Westman ’16 and Patrick Stewart ’16 both had 11 points. Pat Dickert ’18 went 6-for-6 at the foul line and totalled nine points.

The following Tuesday, the Mules played in their home opener against Thomas College, topping them 77-61. Jann, Hudnut, Westman, Stewart and Sam Wilson ’16 were Colby’s five starters against Thomas, and each played outstanding games. Jann had a team-high of 17 points and four assists, and each of the other starters finished with at least nine points and a handful of assists. Hudnut and Stewart both had eight rebounds, as well. The game was tied at 24 for several minutes before Colby took a lead that it would hold for the remainder of the competition. Thomas’ overall record dropped to 2-3 with the loss against its Waterville rival, while Colby’s improved to 2-1.

On Monday, November 23, captain Hudnut was named NESCAC Player of the Week after ranking second in scoring in the league’s first statistics of the season. His powerful start also landed him on the D3hoops.com National Team of the Week.

Saturday, December 5 will mark the Mules’ first NESCAC matchup to be played at home against Bowdoin College. The team’s growth over the past few years has placed them in a favorable position, and while the season has only just begun, the Mules are looking forward to overcoming a tough schedule this winter and striving towards a NESCAC championship. Determination, consistent play and staying healthy will help the Mules reach this goal.

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