For the second-straight game, Case Western Reserve University freshman guard Regan Mohler came off the bench to register a career-high point total, scoring 24 points and leading the Spartans to an 84-81 win over New York University at Horsburgh Gymnasium on Friday night, giving the team's its first University Athletic Association win of the year.
The win put an end to a nine-game losing streak for the Spartans, who improved to 6-15 overall and to 1-9 in the UAA. NYU dropped to 7-14 overall and to 2-8 in the conference with the loss.
For the second-straight game, Mohler led a core of five Spartan freshman who came off the bench to play a strong second half. Mohler connected on 12-of-18 shots in the game for 24 points, shooting nine-of-15 and scoring 18 points in the second half alone. The performance came just a game removed from a 19-point performance in the second half against Washington, as the freshman has now scored 45 points in his last two games after scoring just 12 in the team's first 19 games.
Mohler, along with freshman Darius Inzar, Kyle McIntosh, Connor Nally and Michael Hollis helped the Spartan bench outscore NYU's bench 38-18 in the game, including a 30-6 edge in the second half. Senior guard Javier Alvarez and junior forward T.J. Duckett each added 11 apiece, while junior forward David Black added 10 in the game. Duckett also led the squad with eight rebounds, with Nally scoring eight points and collecting seven rebounds in the game.
The Spartans jumped out to an early 8-0 lead in the game, and continued to lead by eight points, 17-9, after Alvarez converted an and-one with 14:11 to play. However, NYU chipped away at the lead, and eventually went ahead for the first time on Friday night when Joe Timmes converted a four-point play after he was fouled on a made three, giving NYU a 40-39 advantage with 1:54 left in the half. Another three by Timmes in the closing second of the period gave the Violets a 45-41 lead heading into halftime.
The Violets would lead by as many as six points in the second half, taking a 58-52 lead with 16:06 to play. But, the course of the game changed when CWRU Head Coach Todd McGuinness sent the five freshman out to the court at the 15:45 mark. The Spartans would not substitute again until the 3:27 mark, allowing Mohler to go to work. NYU would go cold from the field, going six minutes and 16 seconds without making a shot from the floor. CWRU capitalized with a 17-2, started by 10 unanswered points from Mohler that put the Spartans out in front. A three-point shot by Nally capped off the Spartans' run, giving CWRU a 69-60 lead with 10:03 remaining in the second half.
A layup by Mohler with 6:32 to play gave CWRU its largest lead of the half, 80-70, but NYU would regain the lead with an 11-0 run over the next five minutes. Mohler converted a layup with 1:32 to play that would give the Spartans the lead back, and NYU would miss its final six shots from the floor, helping the Spartans to the win. A pair of free throws by junior guard Colin Zucker with six second left gave CWRU a three-point lead, 84-81, and a last-second three by NYU's Doug Gertner in an attempt to tie the game at the buzzer missed the mark.
The Spartans were able to overcome a 48.8% three-point shooting day (15-of-31) for NYU with a strong performance in the paint, where CWRU outscored the Violets 50-16 on Friday. Case Western Reserve shot 46.7% overall from the floor, their highest mark in a UAA game this season, and the team's best shooting percentage since their opening game against Baldwin Wallace.
Five NYU players scored in double figures on Friday, led by a 17-point performance from Ross Udine.
Case Western Reserve will be back in action on Sunday, February 12th, when the team plays host to Brandeis University at 12:00 p.m. at Horsburgh Gym.