DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The Ursinus College men's basketball team showed few signs of rust in its first game in three weeks, cracking the 100-point barrier for only the third time in the last four seasons and doing so against a top-5 opponent to boot. But despite dropping triple digits on an undefeated national title contender, the Bears struggled to contain Hamilton as the Continentals shot over 60 percent from the field in a 114-101 shootout to open the Land of Magic Classic.
The nets were scorching in the Sunshine State during an entertaining Friday night tussle. Both sides shot better than 50 percent from the field and the 3-point line, but it was high-flying Hamilton which got the best of a scintillating affair that took its place as the highest-scoring regulation contest in school history. The Continentals, who came in 12th in the country in scoring offense (92.8 PPG), put their full arsenal on display in going 41-for-68 (60.3 percent) from the floor and hitting on 13-of-23 (56.5 percent) from long range.
The Bears made a season-high 14 3-pointers on 24 tries (58.3 percent) and finished 35-of-65 overall (53.8 percent), their second-best shooting effort of the year. Senior Eric Williams Jr. went wild for a season-high 31 points to lead Ursinus (5-5), draining seven 3-pointers and continuing his climb up the all-time Centennial Conference charts. Williams, who added four assists and three steals, is fifth in league history with 261 career triples. He crossed the 30-point mark for the third time in his career.
Junior Ryan McTamney matched Williams with a 9-for-18 performance from the floor en route to 23 points, while freshman Ryan Hughes (13 points) and sophomores George Gordon (12) and Lucas Olshevski (11) also scored in double figures. Gordon led the Bears with seven rebounds, while Hughes had a team-best five assists to match his career high and went a perfect 5-for-5 from the floor. Senior Zack Muredda stuffed the box score with five rebounds, five steals, and three assists.
Kena Gilmour led the way with 31 points for Hamilton, which saw all five of its starters score at least 14 points and make more than half of their field-goal attempts. The Continentals (10-0) owned a 40-28 edge on the glass and handed out 20 assists.
The Bears shot over 50 percent in the first half and connected on eight of their dozen 3-point attempts, but still found themselves down by 16 points as Hamilton went a remarkable 11-for-17 from beyond the arc. Eric Williams scored 10 points in the first five minutes and change, including a triple that cut the Continentals' margin to 15-12 in the early going.
Despite Hamilton's hot shooting, Ursinus kept pace admirably and refused to be pushed farther than arm's length. The margin oscillated between seven and ten points for the majority of the period, until the Continentals used a quick 8-0 burst to gain some separation and open up a 54-38 advantage at the 1:27 mark. The spread stayed there until the break as Gilmour's 3 in the closing seconds made it 62-46.
The Bears trailed by 17 at the 13:50 mark (81-64), but hit back with an 8-0 run of their own to get back within single digits. Olshevski's traditional 3-point play and a trey from Hughes preceded a pair of free throws by Muredda, which made it 81-72 with 12:16 to go. Williams hit a 3 for an 86-77 deficit just shy of the midway point of the second stanza, but Hamilton scored on back-to-back trips and the lead never dipped below ten the rest of the way.
The men's basketball team will enjoy a day off on Saturday before completing their holiday stay against Ithaca on Sunday. Tip time is set for 4 p.m.