W&J's Rally Falls Just Short In Season Opener At Denison
GRANVILLE, Ohio -- Washington & Jefferson's rally from a 17-point deficit fell just short Thursday night at Denison as the Big Red held on for a 79-74 victory in both teams' season opener at Livingston Gymnasium.
The Big Red led 51-34 with 16 minutes left, but the Presidents stormed back to trail by only two points with 53 seconds remaining after a jumper by senior guard Zach Bellhy (McDonald, Pa./Fort Cherry). Denison's Bret Woolard knocked down the key basket of the game on a turnaround jumper with 22 seconds left and the Big Red iced the game from the free throw line.
W&J bounced out to a 12-8 lead early on, but the Big Red responded with a 13-2 run to claim a 21-14 advantage at the 8:48 mark. The lead grew to 33-21 five minutes later after a three-point play from All-Region forward Dimonde Hale. Darius White buried a three-pointer five seconds before halftime for a 40-26 halftime lead.
After DU built the 17-point edge, W&J slowly chipped away, mostly by making 22-of-25 free throws in the second half. Sophomore guard Mike Resnik's (White Oak, Pa./McKeesport) basket at the 2:31 mark brought the Presidents to within 72-69 and W&J had a pair of chances to either tie or trim the lead to one, but both shots fell off the rim during the next 60 seconds.
Bellhy nailed a triple with nine seconds left, but Hale made both of the ensuing foul shots and Denison earned the season-opening win.
Bellhy dropped in 28 points to lead the Presidents on 8-of-15 shooting (3-3 three-pointers, 9-11 free throws), while adding three assists and two steals. Resnik contibuted 15 points and three steals in 24 minutes off the bench, while Zach's brother, Nate Bellhy (McDonald, Pa./Fort Cherry), added 12 points and a team-high seven rebounds in his Presidents' debut.
W&J shot 44 percent overall (22-of-50), but was outrebounded by a 40-23 margin. Both teams shot well from the free throw line as W&J went 25-for-29, while DU canned 27-of-32.
Hale led all players with 35 points, nine rebounds and three steals. He made 19-of-21 free throw attempts. White made four three-pointers and finished with 12 points.
W&J opens its home schedule Saturday night in the second game of the Washington Area Credit Union Tournament. The Presidents will play Penn State-Beaver at 7:00 pm after Hood and Ohio Northern battle in the opener.