NESCAC Win Sends Cardinals to NCAA Championship

Coach Joe Reilly takes the net after the Cardinals won the NESCAC championship by defeating Amherst on March 1 at Trinity.

Coach Joe Reilly takes the net after the Cardinals won the NESCAC championship by defeating Amherst on March 1 at Trinity.

Wesleyan defeated Amherst, 74-70, in the championship game of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Men's Basketball Tournament this afternoon. Sixth-seeded Wesleyan improves to 19-8 with its sixth victory in a row, and earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament.

Wesleyan defeated Amherst, 74-70, in the championship game of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Men’s Basketball Tournament March 1.

This month, Wesleyan’s men’s basketball team was crowned NESCAC champs and played in the NCAA Division III Championship for the first time in history. However, the team came up short at Nationals after losing to Skidmore in a first-round game March 6.

The field of 62 teams in the NCAA championship was announced March 2. Wesleyan’s team claimed the NESCAC title after defeating Amherst 74-70 in overtime on March 1. Wesleyan led most of the game but had to fend off several Lord Jeff rallies to secure an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championship. In that game, Jack Mackey ’16 broke the Wesleyan single-season record for three pointers by upping his figure to 75, bettering the mark of 73 set by Chris Bray in 2000-01. Mackey ended the 2014-15 campaign with 77. Read more about the game here.

In the first-round NCAA Division III Championship game, the Cardinals faced Skidmore for just the sixth time, and the first in 10 years. Though Wesleyan recovered from a 12-point halftime deficit by starting the second period on a stellar 13-0 tear, Skidmore pulled ahead midway through the second half and went on to claim an 81-66 victory. Read a full account of that game here.

“It was an amazing run to the NESCAC Championship and first-ever appearance in the NCAA tournament,” said Head Coach Joe Reilly. “The overwhelming support we received from the students, administrators and alumni was energizing. It’s fun to be part of the new era of Wesleyan Athletics. We are extremely proud of how our student athletes represented Wesleyan both on and off the court this season and look forward to building off this success for next year and beyond.”

The 2014-15 Cardinals finished 19-9 on the year, the second greatest number of wins in a season, just behind the 20-6 record of the 2011-12 squad. As the sixth seed, Wesleyan is the lowest seed ever to claim a NESCAC men’s basketball crown.

While the NCAA qualification is the first for men’s basketball, the NESCAC crown is the sixth by a Wesleyan team in the last 10 years. Baseball (2014), football (2013), softball (2010), men’s lacrosse (2009) and men’s soccer (2005) are the other prominent Cardinal squads with NESCAC titles to their credit.