Spartans Come From Behind to Top Thiel 83-79

Spartans Come From Behind to Top Thiel 83-79

Case Western Reserve University sophomore guards Michael Volkening and Ignas Masiulionis combined for 22 points in the second half alone on Wednesday night, helping the Spartans overcome an eight-point deficit in the second half and defeat Thiel College 83-79 at Horsburgh Gymnasium in Cleveland, Ohio.

The Spartans improved to 4-1 with the win, while Thiel dropped to 2-5 following the setback.

Masiulionis was the team's leading scorer for the third time through five games this season, finishing the contest with 16 points on five-of-12 shooting from the floor, including a three-of-seven effort from behind the three-point line.  Junior forward Connor Nally scored 14 points, all in the first half, on five-of-eight shooting from the floor, and added a pair of blocks.  Volkening registered 12 points, three assists and two steals, while freshman forward Ryan Newton added a double-digit point total with 10 points, and junior forward Michael Hollis collected a game-high 10 rebounds.

Early foul trouble and a slow start combined to put the Spartans in a 15-5 hole.  However, the Spartans chipped away at the Tomcats' lead, and jumped in front 24-23 on an old-fashioned three-point play by Nally with 6:14 to play in the half, giving the Spartans their first lead of the game.  The teams exchanged leads eight times over the final six minutes of the half, but a three at the buzzer by Thiel's Daquan Simmons put the Tomcats ahead 44-39 heading into the break.

Thiel quickly expanded its lead to seven to start the half, and the Spartans fell behind by as many as eight points, trailing 58-50 with 14:38 remaining.  Masiulionis helped spur the CWRU comeback, hitting a pair of threes a minute apart and knocking down a free throw to even the score at 62-62 with 9:43 remaining in the game.  CWRU took its first lead of the half, 64-63, on a layup by Masiulionis with 8:08 to play, and expanded its lead to seven points, 73-66, following layups by Volkening on back-to-back possessions and a three pointer by sophomore guard Antonio Ionadi with 4:47 to play.  The Spartans grabbed a game-high eight point lead, 78-70, with 3:03 remaining, but the Tomcats would not go away, cutting the lead to two points on a three-pointer by Nyric Gosley with 45 seconds left.  A Spartan turnover gave the Tomcats a chance to tie or take the lead on their final possession, but Thiel turned the ball over, and junior guard Sam Hansen converted a pair of free throws in the closing seconds to put the game out of reach.

The Spartans finished the game shooting a season-high 52.6% (30-of-57) from the floor.

Case Western Reserve will be back in action this weekend, hosting Thomas More University at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 1st at Horsburgh Gymnasium.