Higgins and Ellis combine for 53 points in Knights men's basketball win at Union
Schenectady, NY – Unlike the first time around when late-game heroics from Kevin Weckworth sent the Clarkson University Men's Basketball team to an overtime defeat versus Union, the Golden Knights hit six free throws in the final minute to gain a much-needed 90-85 Liberty League victory over the Dutchmen on Saturday afternoon.
The Golden Knights edged closer to the last two playoff spots in the Liberty League, improving to 10-12 overall and 6-9 in conference games. Union dropped to 14-8 overall and 10-6 in league games, but clinched a playoff spot this weekend thanks to other results in the conference. Clarkson has three games remaining on the league slate, starting with a trip to St. Lawrence on Tuesday.For the second time in a month, Union guard Kevin Weckworth torched the Golden Knights, producing 38 points on 12-for-25 shooting for the Dutchmen. However, Clarkson's sophomore shooting guard Matt Higgins countered with a career-high 30 points, including 21 in the second half before he fouled out late in the game.
Clarkson started off strong in the first few minutes of the game, but an 11-0 run by the Dutchmen put the Knights down by six just four minutes into the game. Close to the halfway point of the opening period, Clarkson was doubled up by the Dutchmen (30-15), but over the next five minutes the Knights climbed back to within one and a Matt Higgins 3-pointer with 4:58 remaining tied the game at 36-36. Union wouldn't let the Knights reclaim the lead in the first half, though, rolling off six straight points and going into the locker room protecting that same margin (47-41).
In the second half, Union pushed its advantage back out to eight on a pair of free throws from Weckworth at the 17:20 mark, but the Knights rallied with eight straight points to tie the game at 52-52. A few moments later, the Knights would enjoy their first lead since 9-8 when Higgins converted in the lane. Over the next seven minutes, Union would challenge Clarkson's lead but would never tie the game. The Dutchmen pulled to within two at the 7:48 mark, but Clarkson pushed its advantage to nine on another Higgins make at 4:42 (78-69). Union cut the deficit down to four with two and a half minutes to go, but both teams went cold for the next 90 seconds. A key offensive rebound by Gary Hanley sparked the Clarkson offense as the senior forward buried a pair of free throws with 55 seconds to go. The two makes put the Dutchmen on their heels, needing to convert on the offensive end with quick possessions. Several misses allowed the Knights to rebuild their lead with free throws and even a late 3-pointer from Weckworth couldn't challenge the Clarkson lead.
Higgins shot 10-for-17 from the floor for his career-high 30 points while Liam Ellis shot 8-for-14 for 23 points to go along with seven rebounds and four assists. Matthew Hornak also tossed in 13 points in Clarkson's winning effort.
For Union, Weckworth delivered 38 points, just two fewer than his 40 in the first go-round between the two teams. Kevin McNoble added 10 points, six rebounds and seven assists and Brendan Laing contributed 12 points for Union.