Murtha Rallies W&L Men's Basketball Past Methodist, 65-58

Murtha Rallies W&L Men's Basketball Past Methodist, 65-58

LEXINGTON, Va. — The Washington and Lee men's basketball team shot 51.7 percent (15-of-29) in the second half en route to a 65-58 come from behind victory over Methodist on day one of the W&L Holiday Tournament on Tuesday.

The Monarchs (4-7) shot 57.1 percent (12-of-21) in the first, and held the Generals (5-3) to 8-of-29 (27.6 percent) from the field to take a 28-23 lead into halftime. W&L was able to stay within five, because of 16 first-half turnovers for Methodist.

The Blue and White tied the game (34-34) early in the second on a jumper by senior forward Jim Etling (Loveland, Colo./Loveland), but the Monarchs scored seven straight points to grab a 41-34 advantage with 13:37 left in the contest.

A triple by junior guard Andy Kleinlein (Chesterfield, Mo./Chaminade College Prep) trimmed the deficit to four, 41-37, with 12 minutes on the clock, and then senior forward Andrew Franz (Charlotte, N.C./Ravenscroft) converted a layup at the 9:51 mark to close the gap to two, 41-39. Etling tied the game (41-41) with two free throws 30 seconds later.

Over the next five minutes, W&L would tie the game three more times, but in each instance, Methodist would regain the lead until sophomore forward Clayton Murtha (Dallas, Texas/Highland Park) took over in the final three minutes.

With the Blue and White trailing 52-50, Murtha nailed an elbow jumper to knot the game at 52-52 with 2:23 remaining in the contest. After a defensive stop, Murtha once again had the ball with the shot clock winding down, but this time was beyond the three-point arc. With a defender in his face, Murtha drained his first collegiate triple to give the Generals' their first lead of the second stanza, 55-52, with 1:40 left in the game.

The Monarchs missed the front end of a one-and-one on the ensuring possession, and then Murtha found a cutting Franz for a layup to push the W&L lead to five (57-52) with 1:10 left in the game. Senior guard Tabias Hilliard (Rocky Mount, N.C./Rocky Mount) nailed a three-pointer with 56 seconds on the clock to close the gap to two, 57-55, but the Blue and White hit six straight free throws and added a layup by first-year guard Devin Kearns (Cibolo, Texas/Samuel Clemens) to reach the final margin.

Murtha finished the contest with 17 points and nine rebounds. First-year forward Roy McMillan (Raleigh, N.C./Broughton) was the only other General in double figures with 10 points. Franz ended the night with nine points, seven rebounds and six assists.

With his nine points, Franz moved past J.D. Ey '13 for 20th on the W&L all-time scoring list. Franz now has 1,026 career points. Rob Smitherman '81 is 19th with 1,034 points.

Sophomore forward Davion Ayabarreno (Fayetteville, N.C./Northside) led Methodist with 16 points, five rebounds and four assists. Senior forward Brandon Monk (Jacksonville, N.C./Southwest Onslow) added 12 points, and sophomore forward Jackson Whitley (Greensboro, N.C./Western Guilford) totaled four points, eight rebounds and seven blocks.

The Generals advance to the championship game of the W&L Holiday Tournament and will play Frostburg State on Wednesday at 4:00 pm.

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