MIDDLETOWN, Conn.—Sophomore Rashid Epps led the Cardinals with 15 points as Wesleyan held off Coast Guard 58-48 in the opening round of the Herb Kenny Tip-Off Tournament, the season opener for both teams.
Coast Guard struggled at the foul line making just 10 of 22 while missing six straight while down by six points with just over two minutes left.
Coast Guard will play in either Mass. College of Liberal Arts or Dickinson in the consolation game on Saturday at 1:00 p.m.
Wesleyan freshman Harry Rafferty knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Cardinals a 52-46 lead with 2:39 left before Coast Guard missed six straight free throws. Rafferty then added a layup with 1:23 left to put the game away.
Junior David Anderson led Coast Guard with a game-high 18 points while classmate Eli Sponseller had a career-high 15 points in the loss. Senior Devonte Weems finished with nine points and a team-high seven rebounds and four steals for the Bears.
Wesleyan scored the first bucket of the second half to take a 35-25 lead before the Bears ran off six straight capped on a 3-pointer by junior David Anderson to cut the deficit to 35-31 with 17:28 remaining.
Coast Guard trailed 42-39 following a hoop by Weems with 10:43 left before Wesleyan scored seven of the next eight points capped on back-to-back buckets by sophomore Rashid Epps with 5:42 left to stretch the lead to 49-40.
The Bears would not go away scoring six straight, four by Anderson, and pulled to within 49-46 on a layup by Sponseller with 3:21 left.
Wesleyan used a 10-2 run early in the first half turning a 5-4 lead into a 15-6 edge with 10:52 left in the opening half.
The Cardinals next four buckets came from behind the arc with sophomore BJ Davis connecting on a pair as Wesleyan pushed the lead to 27-13 with 7:08 left in the half.
Coast Guard answered with five straight to cut the lead back to single digits at 27-18 following a layup by senior Devonte Weems with 5:03 left.
The Bears made a late first half run with six straight capped on a jumper by Sponseller cutting a 31-19 deficit to 31-25 with 57 seconds left. Wesleyan led 33-25 at halftime.
Wesleyan held a huge advantage on the boards as they outrebounded the Bears 43-24. The Cardinals shot 37.7 percent from the floor (23-61) while making 6 of 15 from 3-point range while Coast Guard shot 37.5 percent from the field (18-48) and hit 2 for 10 from behind the arc.
"I'm really happy with the way our guys competed against a very good Wesleyan team," said Coast Guard head coach Kevin Jaskiewicz. "We did miss six straight free throws, but we put ourselves into a position to get to the line by digging in, scratching and clawing. We missed two, got a rebound right back and went back to the line. Again, I was really proud of the way we competed, but I told our guys that we can't accept losing. We have to come out tomorrow and try to get our first win."