CHESTERTOWN, Md. – The Haverford College men's basketball team punched its ticket to the Centennial Conference Tournament with a 74-59 victory at Washington College on Thursday evening. The Fords (15-5, 10-3 CC) raced out to a 39-19 lead and never looked back against a Shoremen (7-13, 5-8 CC) squad fighting for its own spot in the postseason. Haverford's ensuing postseason appearance will be the program's first since the 2010-11 season.
Haverford has now swept the regular season series against each of the first four teams it has seen a second time in Centennial Conference action. The team's 15 total victories to date – with five more regular season games plus the postseason to come – is second all-time to the 1976-77 team which finished 18-8 overall. Jackson Ryan and Joe Wujciak led a trio of double figure scorers for the Fords as they both finished with 15 points. Nate Torres added 14 points off the bench as Haverford's substitutes outscored their counterparts from Washington College 28-15.
The Fords blitzed the Shoremen right from the start, hitting 14 of their first 19 shots from the field (73.7%) while going 4-for-6 from beyond the arc during those first 15 minutes. Wujciak set the tone early with two of his first three made shots from distance coming during the opening four possessions as Haverford scored the first eight points. Washington College broke its scoreless drought just over three minutes into the contest, but Haverford answered that with seven more points to go up 15-2 just under five minutes in. Ryan's old-fashioned three-point play capped Haverford's second run of the opening minutes on his way to a career high scoring night.
Holding a 23-12 lead with just over 11 minutes remaining in the first half, Haverford's defense was equally up to the task as the Fords limited WAC to just one field goal over the next five minutes and pushed the lead all the way to a game-high 20 point difference, 39-19, with 5:55 still to play in the opening period. The Fords ended a very strong opening half holding Washington College scoreless on each of the host's four attempts from beyond the arc while the Shoremen shot just 34.5% during the first half.
Washington College momentarily trimmed the lead down to single digits with 10 of the first 12 points to start the second half, but a three-pointer from Ryan pushed Haverford's advantage back to double digits, 50-38, with 14:26 remaining in regulation time. The closest Washington College came in the remaining time was a six-point deficit, 60-54, with 5:30 showing on the game clock after an 8-0 run. Nevertheless, Wujciak's final three-pointer of the evening and a basket from Jesse Turkson in transition gave the momentum right back to Haverford as the Fords closed the Centennial Conference contest on a 7-1 run over the final two minutes when they simply needed to hold onto the ball.
When the Fords weren't thwarting Washington College with contested shots, Haverford forced the Shoremen into 14 turnovers. Ryan came up with three steals as Turkson also took away two WAC possessions to aid Haverford's 13-4 advantage in points off of turnovers. Both teams finished with 35 rebounds. Turkson led the Fords with seven rebounds while Joe Hartman grabbed six. Jonathan Lang, Ryan, and Torres each collected five boards. Haverford also assisted on 14 of the team's 26 baskets. Jack Cork's four dimes led the way in that category.
With its spot in the conference tournament now clinched for the first time in nine seasons, the Fords will have five more regular season games remaining to solidify and improve their playoff positioning. Haverford's current three-game road trip will continue this Saturday as the Fords travel to Gettysburg for a 3 p.m. tip.