On a Friday night that offered a host of activities for UR students, arguably the most enthralling entertainment was occurring on the floor of the Louis Alexander Palestra.
There the men’s basketball team hosted the third-ranked team in Division III basketball, the Washington University in St. Louis Golden Bears.
UR’s clash with the Bears each year has the atmosphere of a postseason game, a deep-seated rivalry that over the course of the last two years alone has seen both last-second heroics and crushing dominance.
And on Friday, as the ‘Jackets fought to shake off a two-game losing streak and WashU looked to keep their postseason resume intact, it was the visiting team that managed to eke out a narrow 82-78 victory.
‘Friday night’s game was frustrating,” junior guard David Gould said. ‘We knew we could play with WashU that was never a question in our minds unfortunately we weren’t able to finish the game off.”
Trailing 29-33 after a tightly contested first half, UR fell behind by as many as 10 points in the second half a deficit that it couldn’t overcome.
The Bears relied heavily on star point guard Sean Wallis, who capped off a career night with 27 points, including 10 from the free-throw line. Wallis’ reliability from the line was particularly timely down the stretch. He made 7-8 in the final minute of the game alone.
UR, meanwhile, was paced by sophomore forward Nate Novosel and freshman guard Jon DiBartolomeo, both of whom had 16 points. Freshman guard Milan Moncrief had 15 points while Gould added 12.
In large part due to the effort of these four, the Yellowjackets were able to hang around until two free throws from Wallis finally put the game away with four seconds remaining. It was DiBartolomeo who, with UR trailing by five with five seconds left, gave the ‘Jackets a lifeline when he drove hard to the basket, drawing a foul while knocking down a lay-up.
In the end, however, the speed of the Bears proved to be too much for UR. But for Gould, that simply serves as motivation.
‘WashU was better on Friday, but luckily we get another shot at them this upcoming weekend,” Gould said.
The ‘Jackets will also get another chance to prove themselves this coming weekend against the University of Chicago, who UR beat on Sunday, 76-75, in overtime.
Novosel sparked the victory against the Maroons, as he recorded 21 points and six rebounds, while Gould and DiBartolomeo followed suit with back-to-back double-digit point performances. The freshman had 12 points, while Gould had 15.
‘Sunday was a game that we felt like we couldn’t afford to lose,” Gould said. ‘Ending a three-game losing streak and staying above .500 in the league was very important.”
Still, the victory was anything but smooth. The Yellowjackets shot just 12-22 from the free-throw line and hit just one 3-pointer in the second half.
But the Yellowjackets persevered, relying heavily on the presence of Novosel in the paint, who hit 9-12 from the floor to come out with a win.
‘Earlier in the year we were in a similar situation against Clarkson University, and lost the game in OT after giving up the lead,” Gould said. ‘For us to come back after giving up a late-game lead and pull the win out was great for us as a team. Hopefully that win will give us some momentum going into next weekend.”
Hilfinger is a member of the class of 2010.