LEXINGTON, Va. — Using a 20-8 run at the end of the first half, the Washington and Lee basketball team ended its two-game losing streak with an 87-71 victory over Averett at the Warner Center on Wednesday. The Generals (4-2) also had five players score in double figures, with three notching their career highs, for the first time this season.
The Cougars (2-3) playing their first game in nine days, took the early lead, 10-6, after five minutes of action. W&L closed the gap (10-9) with a three-pointer by sophomore forward Patrick O'Connor (Richmond, Va./Douglas Freeman). The teams went back and forth for the next six minutes with senior guard Justin Pierce (Virginia Beach, Va./Green Run) making the first of two free throws to tie the game at 22.
Pierce made his second free throw, which started a 6-0 run for AU. The Cougars would extend their advantage to 34-26 after a layup by Pierce with 6:49 remaining in the first half. The Generals called timeout, and O'Connor scored five-straight points to cut the lead to three, 34-31. The teams traded baskets on the next seven possessions with the Cougars holding a two-point lead, 42-40 with 2:41 left.
The Generals scored the final seven points of the half, highlighted by a layup and three-pointer by first-year forward Andrew Franz (Charlotte, N.C./Ravenscroft) to take a 46-42 advantage into intermission. W&L would not relinquish the lead the rest of the game.
The Blue and White kept widening the gap in the second half, and held a 76-64 lead with 5:33 left in the contest. The Generals scored eight of the next 10 points to extend the advantage to 18 (84-66) with 2:53 left in the game. Both teams emptied their benches in the final two minutes to reach the final tally of 87-71.
O'Connor, Franz and junior guard Kevin Gill (Richmond, Va./Benedictine) all set career highs in points. O'Connor made every shot he took with 13 points on 4-of-4 from the field, 2-of-2 from long range and 3-of-3 from the charity stripe. Gill totaled 21 points on 7-of-12 from the field and nailed four three-pointers. Franz notched 16 points on 5-of-7 shooting.
Also in double figures for the Generals was sophomore guard Javon McDonald (Schaumburg, Ill./Schaumburg) with 16 and junior forward Larry Whitaker (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett) with 11. Senior forward J.D. Ey (Charlotte, N.C./Myers Park) did everything else for W&L with six rebounds, six assists and four blocks.
The Generals shot 50.9 percent (28-55) from the field, 57.9 percent (11-19) from behind the arc and 95.2 percent (20-21) from the free-throw line. The free-throw percentage was a season high for the Blue and White. W&L also totaled 20 assists and only 10 turnovers.
Senior guard Marquis Scott (Ocala, Fla./West Port) led the Cougars with 20 points on 10-of-12 from the foul line. Scott also added a game-high seven rebounds and four assists. Pierce totaled 19 points on 7-of-12 from the field. Averett shot 35.8 percent (24-67) from the field, 38.9 percent (7-18) from deep and 80.0 percent (16-20) from the foul line. AU out-rebounded W&L, 40-31, including 21 offensive boards for the Cougars. It marked the first time all season the Generals had fewer rebounds than their opponent.
W&L will take a break for finals and won't play its next game until December 19 against Bates at the Daytona Beach Shootout.
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