February 3, 2011

Balanced Attack Leads Cougars Past Wheaton, 68-55

Norton, Mass. – Clark used a balanced offensive attack led by Brian Vayda (Sturbridge, Mass.) and the visiting Cougars picked up their first win in league play with a 68-55 win over Wheaton in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference men's basketball action on Thursday evening.

The win for Clark ended a four-game losing streak and brings their record to 7-13 overall and 1-6 in conference play. Wheaton, meanwhile, has dropped six of seven and now sit at 7-13 as well but 2-6 in league action.

The Lyons sprinted out to a 10-2 advantage at 16:10 of the opening half, as four different players cracked the scoring column. 

Clark responded in a major way, using a 13-0 run over 3:04 capped by a Drew Billington (Fairfield, Conn.) layup to secure a 15-10 lead at 12:48. 

Following a Wheaton bucket, the Cougars ripped off seven of the game's next nine points for a 22-14 bulge with 7:07 to go before the break. Trailing 24-17, the Lyons answered with a pair of baskets to get within three before a Vayda three made the score 27-21 at 3:38.  Clark was kept off the board the rest of the frame, leading 27-25 at halftime.

Wheaton trailed by one two times early in the second half before the Cougars rattled off 10 consecutive points - including back-to-back three-pointers from Travis Curley (Trumbull, Conn.) and Jake Gubitose (Fiskdale, Mass.) - for a 40-29 advantage with 14:13 left.

 A Will Bayliss conventional three-point play cut the Lyon deficit to eight at 13:26, but Clark responded with another 10-0 spurt to gain the game's largest lead at 50-32 at the 10:39 mark. 

The hosts narrowed the gap to 53-45 by 5:45 but came no closer, as the Cougars went on a 7-0 run to the put the game out of reach.

Vayda turned in a team-best 18 points, to go along with five rebounds and five assists. Gubitose and Jeff Tagger (Brockton, Mass.) added 11 and 10 points, respectively, while Curley and Billington each added eight and Mitch Renshaw (Rutland, Mass.) provided seven points and six rebounds. 

For Wheaton, Bayliss had a career-high 25 points, going 10-of-12 from the floor and 5-of-6 from the charity stripe, to go alongside four assists and three steals, while Anthony Coppola added 15 on just 5-for-17 shooting.

Clark returns to the hardwood on Saturday with a home contest against Coast Guard where they will honor the program's two seniors – co-captain David Opp (Hudson, Mass.) and team manager Josh Cantor.