READING, Pa.– Freshman Ben Wiebusch scored a career-high 17 points as Stevenson University outscored Alvernia University 42-26 in the second half en route to a 79-71 MAC Commonwealth men's basketball victory at McCloskey Court. The win was the second straight for the Mustangs (3-13, 1-6 MAC Commonwealth).
Wiebusch finished 6-10 from the floor and 2-3 behind the arc to lead three Stevenson players in double figures. Classmate Cameron Hayes totaled 16 points and five rebounds, while junior Tim McNeal added 14 points and five boards. Junior Cliff Cornish narrowly missed a double-double with nine points and a career-best 15 rebounds. Sophomore Korey Hayman, Jr. scored eight points and dished out five assists.
Alvernia (9-7, 3-4 MAC Commonwealth) was led by Marquis Marshall's 26 points, while George Williams added 23. The loss was the first of the year at home for the Crusaders, who were 5-0 at McCloskey Court in 2016-17 entering the game.
Stevenson, which trailed by as many as 12 in the first half and 45-37 at halftime, opened the second half by outscoring the Crusaders 11-5 and a layup by Cornish pulled the guests within two, 50-48, at the 15:23 mark. Alvernia was able to keep the Mustangs at bay until the 6:38 mark, when a pair of free throws by sophomore Walt English tied the game 63-63.
The Mustangs held Alvernia scoreless for nearly five minutes, using an 11-0 run to open up a 70-63 advantage with 3:38 left following a McNeal basket. A three-pointer by Alvernia's Alex Shippen snapped the drought with 3:22 to go and made it 70-66, but a pair of free throws by Wiebusch with 1:41 left made it a 72-66 game. Alvernia finished with just two field goals over the final 8:31 as Stevenson led by as many as nine points down the stretch, sealing the win by going 7-7 at the free throw line.
Stevenson jumped out to an 8-2 lead two minutes into the game and led for much of the game's first 14 minutes. The guests led 29-24 when Alvernia reeled off 14 straight points to open a 38-29 lead with 4:11 left on a Shippen basket. The Crusaders took their largest lead, 44-32, with 2:41 left, before Stevenson held the hosts without a field goal the rest of the half as they pulled within 45-37.
The Mustangs knocked down seven of their 15 three-point attempts and took nine more trips to the free throw line, going 18-23 while Alvernia was 10-14 at the stripe. Stevenson outrebounded the Crusaders 45-29,including 18-7 on the offensive glass that led to a 12-2 advantage in second chance points. The Mustangs have outrebounded seven of their last eight opponents. Alvernia did outshoot Stevenson 45.8%-41.5%.
Stevenson returns home Wednesday night when it entertains Hood College in an 8:00 MAC Commonwealth game at Owings Mills Gymnasium.