Hobart College forward Jackson Meshanic closed out the 2021 portion of the schedule with a season-high 27 points, but clutch free throw shooting by Vassar College allowed the home team to eke out a 68-65 Liberty League victory this afternoon.
The Brewers went 5-for-6 at the free throw line in the final 1:12 to earn the victory. Avni Mustafaj was 4-for-4 at the line during the closing run and 6-for-6 overall, finishing with 10 points.
Mustafaj’s first two free throws gave Vassar a 63-58 lead with 2:45 remaining. At the other end of the floor, Meshanic converted a traditional 3-point play. Hobart tied the game off a Brewer turnover that led to a driving layup by Carter Meshanic. Both teams misfired on opportunities to break the stalemate before Mustafaj ease his team in front with two makes at the line.
The Statesmen turned the ball over on their ensuing possession and Ethan Ellis earned a trip to the line, making one of two to cap his 17-point game. Jackson Meshanic made a layup with 17 seconds to go, pulling Hobart within one. Unable to get the steal on the inbounds play, the Statesmen fouled Mustafaj who sank both of his freebies with 10 seconds left. Hobart got off a 3-point try at the buzzer, but it off the mark.
Jackson Meshanic was 9-of-16 shooting with a 3-pointer and 8-of-11 at the free throw line. Nineteen of his 27 points came in the second half. He also led Hobart to a 36-34 rebounding edge with a team-high eight boards. Carter Meshanic added eight points.
The Statesmen led for the majority of the first half, pressing their advantage to as many as 10. Clinging to a 24-22 edge with about five minutes left in the half, Hobart rattled off eight straight points. Ryan Lucey started it with a driving layup followed by consecutive post-up buckets by Jackson Meshanic. Aidan Rodgers’ driving layup finished the run, giving the Statesmen a 32-22 lead with under three minutes to play in the half.
Ellis hit a couple of 3-pointers down the stretch, helping the Brewers make it a 1-point game going into the break.
Hobart shot 51.7% from the floor in the opening 20 minutes and held an 18-14 advantage on the glass. Jackson Meshanic led the Statesmen with eight first half points while Chandler Owenby added six points and a game-high four rebounds.
Vassar shot 43.3% from the floor, including six 3-pointers. Ellis led all scorers with 11 points at halftime.
The Brewers seized the momentum out of the locker room, opening the second half on a 12-4 run. Ellis and Zev Katz bookended the run with 3-pointers. Vassar led by as many as seven before Hobart fought back to tie the game in the waning minutes.
Hobart had a slight shooting advantage in the game, making 46.7% to Vassar’s 43.9%, but the Brewers made nine shots from beyond the arc.
The Statesmen have a 34-day layoff before their next contest, Jan. 7, 2022, at RIT.
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