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Clark Uses Second Half Surge To Beat Wheaton Basketball

Johnson records team-high 13 points for Lyons.

Clark University used a 14-6 run over the remaining 7:17 of the contest to secure an eventual 66-58 victory over the Wheaton College men's basketball team on Saturday evening at Emerson Gymnasium in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) action. 

Senior forward Brian Johnson (Roxbury, Mass./Brimmer and May School) scored a team-high 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting, four rebounds, three steals and two assists. Freshman guard Billy Battaglia (Simsbury, Conn./The Taft School) tallied 12 points, a game-high five assists, two rebounds and one steal. Sophomore guard Mike Cannon (New York, N.Y./Hyde School) netted nine points, grabbed four rebounds, had two blocks and two assists. 

Sophomores Ryan Clinesmith (New York, N.Y./The Hill Scholl) andJaycob Morales (Lawrence, Mass./Central Catholic) and senior guard Scott Faucher (Lebanon, N.H./Kimball Union Academy) all turned in six points each. Morales also added four caroms and three steals. 

Clark was led by a pair of double-doubles from graduate studentsD.J. Bailey (Palmer, Mass./Palmner) and Brian Vayda (Sturbridge, Mass./Tantasqua Regional). Bailey poured in 14 points, brought down 12 rebounds (four offensive) and collected five blocks. Vayda matched Bailey in the points column, grabbed ten rebounds and recorded one steal. Freshman forward Tyler Veretto (South Windsor, Conn./East Catholic) contributed 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting and two rebounds. 

Tied 52-52 with 7:17 remaining in the game, the Cougars went 8-for-9 (89%) from the free throw line with senior guard Marcus Armstrong (Malden, Mass./Malden) leading the way with a perfect 6-for-6 showing at the charity stripe. Bailey, Vayda, graduate studentTravis Curley (Trumbull, Conn./Proctor Academy) and junior guardJake Gubitose (Fiskdale, Mass./Tantasqua Regional) all chipped in with two points apiece during the run. 

Wheaton held a 37-33 advantage headed into the break using eight 3-pointers during the opening stanza to claim its lead. Faucher and Battaglia had two each while Johnson, Cannon and sophomores Eddie Capstick (Worcester, Mass./Marianapolis Prep) and Mike O'Loughlin (Milford, N.H./Milford) all knocked down one triple, respectively. 

Battaglia gave the Lyons a 52-49 lead with a layup at the 8:22 mark of the second half before Clark University stormed back to sweep the season series between the two squads. Earlier this year on January 10, Gubitose won the game for the Cougars, 55-53, with a game-winning jump shot with one-second to play in the contest in Worcester, Mass. 

The Cougars posted a 32-24 margin in points in the paint and a 14-2 advantage in second chance points. Clark also outrebounded Wheaton, 48-32, including a 16-6 differential on the offensive boards. 

The Lyons led by as many as 17 points (22-12) at the 10:50 mark of the first half connecting on 7-of-8 three-point attempts during the stretch run. Clark closed the gap with a 23-10 offensive output throughout the rest of play in the half. 

Wheaton (8-10, 1-6 NEWMAC) travels to MIT on Wednesday, Jan. 30 for a NEWMAC clash with opening tip-off scheduled for 7 p.m. Clark (10-8 4-3 NEWMAC) hosts non-conference opponent Rhode Island College on Thursday, Jan. 31 at 6 p.m.

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