Men's Basketball Battles No. 1 Swarthmore

Men's Basketball Battles No. 1 Swarthmore

HAVERFORD, Pa. – The Haverford College men's basketball team battled No. 1 Swarthmore on Wednesday evening inside Gooding Arena. The Fords (16-8, 11-6 CC) went into the halftime break tied with the Garnet (24-0, 17-0 CC) and held the lead in the second half before Swarthmore pulled away late with the 86-73 victory.

In front of a raucous student section for the rivalry game, both teams put four players in double figures. Jesse Turkson led the Fords with 18 points and six rebounds. Joe Hartman scored 13 points off the bench, while Jack Cork and Nate Torres finished with 12 and 10, respectively. Joe Wujciak also had a strong game with nine points and seven assists. George Visconti led Swarthmore with 20 points.

Both teams shot the ball well for the game with the Garnet holding a 54.1% to 50.9% edge throughout the contest. After holding Swarthmore to 3-of-14 from beyond the arc in the opening half, Swarthmore shot 4-for-8 from beyond the arc and 15-of-25 from the field over the final 20 minutes.

Haverford led for a majority of the opening half but the two rivals did swap the lead eight times while being tied on six other occasions. The Fords started the game with baskets on each of their first three possessions as Turkson got into the paint early and also knocked down a three for a quick 7-2 lead. Haverford eventually led by as many as seven points just under seven minutes into the contest after Torres got his put back to go, setting the score at 13-6.

Swarthmore countered that advantage with a 10-2 run to give the visitors their first lead of the night midway through the second half. Jackson Ryan quickly stopped any further momentum with a triple on the ensuing possession and the teams would be tied four more times before the Garnet regained the lead. Swarthmore's largest lead of the half was a five-point edge, 35-30, with just under four minutes to play, but back-to-back three-pointers from Turkson and Hartman put Haverford back in the lead. Hartman knocked down one more triple before the break as the teams headed into the locker room deadlocked at 39-all.

Cork chipped in the first two points of the second half to reclaim Haverford's lead and the Fords ended up ahead 45-44 just over two minutes into the second half after scoring on three consecutive possessions. Nevertheless, Nate Shafer knocked down a jumper to give his side a one-point edge and jumpstart a 17-5 run that saw Swarthmore hold the first double-digit lead of the evening.

Jumpers from Wujciak and Ryan brought the deficit back down to six points, but the Garnet were able to keep the lead right around 10 for most of that remaining time. The closest Haverford came down the stretch was a seven-point deficit, 73-66, with just over four minutes to play after Cork and Wujciak went to work in the paint and prompted a Garnet timeout. Nevertheless, Swarthmore countered that blow and made its free throws down the stretch to remain undefeated with the 86-73 win.

The Garnet certainly made the most of their opportunities, highlighted by a 20-9 advantage in points off of turnovers. They also held a 34-23 edge on the boards thanks in large part to 11 offensive rebounds, but the Fords managed to minimize that damage by allowing just eight second chance points. Haverford's bench did outscore the Garnet by a 27-13 margin while the Fords held the lead for over 14 minutes of game action.

Tonight's rivalry doubleheader started with the women's team coming through with a 55-36 victory against Swarthmore. The win allowed the women to capture home court advantage for the upcoming Centennial Conference Tournament. After tonight's results, Haverford is leading the Hood Trophy competition by a 5-3 score through eight of the 18 contested sports.

Men's basketball will now wrap up the regular season this Saturday at Johns Hopkins. That contest is set for a 3 p.m. tip in Baltimore. That regular season finale will ultimately be a preview of Haverford's Centennial Conference semifinal as the Fords and Blue Jays are locked into a playoff matchup next Friday, February 28. That game will be hosted by Swarthmore with the start time to be determined next week.