SWARTHMORE, Pa. – Sophomore Will Gates put together another outstanding offensive performance, tying a career high with 31 points and sparking a furious second-half rally for the Swarthmore College men's basketball team (3-3, 0-1), but it wasn't enough to overcome a 22-point first-half deficit to visiting Moravian, as the Garnet fell to the Greyhounds 87-79 on Monday evening from Tarble Pavilion.
Freshman Jay Kober added 13 points, including eight in the second half to spark a huge Garnet rally in the second frame to cut the Greyhounds' lead to just six points in the final minute of play.
With his 31 points, Gates is believed to be the first player in program history to record back-to-back 30-point performances.
Blake English led a trio of Greyhounds (2-3, 0-0) in double figures, finishing with 21 points. D.J. Strayhorn added 20 while Kenny Gula scored 14 off the bench for Moravian.
The Greyhounds built a 22-point first half advantage thanks to a superb shooting, hitting 60 percent of its shots from the field in the first half and 52 percent for the game. The Greyhounds also took advantage from the line in a foul-happy contest, connecting on 27 of 38 free throws. Swarthmore finished the game 23 of 29 from the line.
Moravian came out shooting hot from the opening tip, connecting on its first five shots of the game - including its first three triples - to jump to a 14-9 lead. The Greyhounds didn't let up from there, continuing to dice the Garnet defense, using a 21-3 run midway through the first half to break the game open. A lay-up from Gula - his eighth bench point of the first half - gave Moravian its biggest lead at 43-21. The Greyhounds headed to the locker room with a 49-31 lead.
The second half was all about the Garnet offense, as Swat poured in 48 points to make it game into the final minute of play. After essentially trading baskets for the first 10 minutes of play, Swarthmore made a run behind Gates and Kober to get right back into the contest. A Kober three-pointer at 8:30 mark cut the Moravian lead to just10 points at 64-54, bringing Swat back to life.
From there, the Garnet fought hard and chipped away at the Greyhound lead, just never quite finding the big run to pull off the miraculous comeback. A Gates fast-break lay-up made it a seven-point game at 74-67 with just 3:11 to go, but Moravian ended the Swat momentum almost immediately on the next two possessions, as an easy lay-up from English and an and-one from Strayhorn brought the lead back to double digits at 79-67.
A superhoop from senior captain Ryan Carmichael cut the lead to six with under a minute to play, but it was too little, too late for the Garnet, as Moravian hung on for the 87-79 win.
The physical game saw the teams combine for 49 fouls and 67 free throws.
The Garnet finished 10-of-25 from behind the arc, buoyed by Gates' four triples. For the season, Gates is shooting 49 percent (23-of-47) from three.
The Greyhounds dominated the paint, outscoring Swarthmore 38-20 for the contest.
Swarthmore returns to Centennial Conference play on Wednesday when it travels to Allentown to face Muhlenberg. Action is slated for 7:30 p.m.