Case Western Reserve University took 13th-ranked Emory University to the wire on Sunday afternoon, but a last-second three point attempt to tie the game just missed the mark, as the Spartans fell 75-72 to the Eagles on 'Senior Day' at Horsburgh Gymnasium.
The Spartans dropped to 12-10 on the year with Sunday's loss, including a 6-5 record in the University Athletic Association, while Emory improved to 18-4 on the year with a 9-2 conference mark.
Playing in the final home game of his collegiate career, forward T.J. Duckett, the Spartans' lone senior player, recorded his tenth double-double of the season and the 21st of his career, finishing the contest with 19 points on an eight-of-10 shooting effort and 14 rebounds. Freshman guard Ignas Masiulionis scored 18 of his game-high 20 points in the second half of the contest, and sophomore guard Monty Khela added 14 points for CWRU on Sunday.
The game was close throughout the first half, with neither team taking more than a two possession lead during the opening period. Trailing by six points with 10:24 remaining in the half, the Spartans went on a 10-0 run, capped off by back-to-back threes from freshman guard Antonio Ionadi, to take a 26-22 lead with 8:01 left in the frame. The Spartans grabbed a six-point lead, 33-27, with 4:29 to go on the first of two threes in the period by freshman guard Michael Volkening, but Emory closed the half on an 11-3 run to go into the break with a 38-36 lead.
The Spartans started the second half on a 6-0 run, including a pair of baskets from Duckett and a layup by Masiulionis, to take a 42-38 lead with 17:23 to go. Emory responded with an 8-0 run of their own to regain the lead, and would go on to lead by as many as eight points, 60-52 with 7:42 left in the game. CWRU chipped away at the Eagles' lead, and a three by Masiulionis with 2:40 to play capped a 10-3 Spartan bust, and put Case Western Reserve ahead 67-66. However, Emory responded with a three-pointer of their own off the hands of Beau Bommarito, and would not trail again in the game.
CWRU did not go away quietly in the contest. Another three by Masiulionis with 17 seconds left cut the Eagles lead back to a point, 73-72. A pair of free throws by Emory's Romin Williams extended the lead back to three with 15 seconds remaining. The Spartans had one last chance to even the score, but a three-point try by sophomore forward Michael Hollis as the clock expired missed the mark.
The Spartans finished the game shooting 42.4% overall (28-of-66), including a 46.4% mark (13-of-28) in the second half alone. Paced by Duckett's day, the Spartans were dominant in the paint on Sunday, outscoring the Eagles 36-16 on post opportunities and holding a 16-6 edge in second chance points.
Williams led all Emory players with 20 points in the game off the bench, and Christopher Avant added 15 for the Eagles in the game.
Sunday also marked 'Senior Day' for the Spartans, as the team honored its lone senior, T.J. Duckett, with a special ceremony prior to the game. Duckett, a 2016-17 All-UAA First Team selection, has led the team in both points and rebounds over the last two seasons, while earning two berths to the D3hoops.com Team of the Week and three UAA Athlete of the Week honors over his career.
The Spartans will be on the road for their final three games of the season, beginning with a trip to St. Louis, Missouri and Chicago, Illinois next weekend. CWRU is slated to play at second-ranked Washington University (Mo.) on Friday, February 16th at 9:00 p.m. ET.