Men’s Basketball clinches crucial playoff berth


Colby Men’s Basketball has earned themselves a spot in the NESCAC playoffs after two crucial home victories over Connecticut College and Wesleyan  University this past weekend. They hold the eighth seed and will play top-seeded Trinity College in the quarterfinals this Saturday in Hartford, Connecticut. 

The Mules were on the verge of playoff contention at the start of last week when the Camels of Connecticut College herded themselves into Wadsworth Gymnasium on Friday night. The first half was a back-and-forth affair with Colby going into the break holding a 38-34 lead. Then, after some strong halftime words from coach Damien Strahorn, the Mules came out flying in the opening four minutes of the second half to take an eight-point lead. Basketball is a game of runs, and this game was no  exception as a 6-0 streak by the Camels was followed by a nine-point run by the Mules, who kept their foot on the gas and maintained their lead throughout the game. Conn. shrank the lead to as close as seven points, but the Camels were unable to get over the hump and take the lead. The lead stretched out to ten points as the final buzzer sounded and the scoreboard showed an 83-73 score in favor of the Mules. Colby exhibited excellent team basketball as they dished out 23 total assists and shot 56.6 percent from the field. Point guard Luke Westman ’16 was a standout player with a team-high 22 points on 7-8 shooting from the field. Ryan Jann ’16 totalled 19 points, and Patrick Stewart ’16 earned a double-double with 11 points and ten rebounds. Fresh off a Friday victory, the Mules looked to the sky and saw their foe for Saturday: The Cardinals of Wesleyan University. 

The Mules needed a victory to clinch a playoff spot over 20th-ranked Wesleyan, and they had the home court advantage on their side. However, the Cardinals flew off to a quick 15-6 lead just six minutes into the game. Never succumbing to nerves, the Mules battled back to a 26-26 tie before going on a 10-5 run and ending the first half up 36-31. Up 46-40, the Mules used an 11-3 run to electrify the crowd and stifle the Cardinals, who just barely mustered a single-digit loss: 73-64. The seven Colby seniors came up big in their final game at home, with Chris Hudnut ’16 finishing with 19 points and a monstrous 15 rebounds, Stewart shooting 6-10 from three-point range on his way to a team-high 20 points, and Westman committing zero turnovers as a ball handler. Defense wins important games, and the Mules forced the Cardinals to commit 14 turnovers while shooting a measly 35.8 percent from the field. 

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After an excellent weekend of basketball, Colby ends the season at 16-8 overall and 4-6 in the NESCAC. Wadsworth gymnasium proved to be a terrific weapon for the Mules, who finished 8-1 at home as colleges making the trek to Waterville had a hard time leaving the Wadsworth Gymnasium victorious. Unfortunately, the Mules leave their cage to travel to Hartford in a rematch of last year’s playoff game, in which eight-seeded Colby fell by three points to the top-seeded Bantams 66-63. However, last year’s game did not feature crucial Colby players Hudnut and Stewart, who were both out with injury. This year, the Mules have upset in mind as they try to extend their exciting season on Saturday at 3:00 P.M.