Men's Basketball: McDaniel suffers first conference loss to unbeaten Swarthmore

McDaniel's Wes Brooks is blocked by Swarthmore's Sean Thaxter Saturday, Dec. 5. in Westminster.
McDaniel's Wes Brooks is blocked by Swarthmore's Sean Thaxter Saturday, Dec. 5. in Westminster. (DAVE MUNCH/STAFF PHOTO / Carroll County Times)

McDaniel senior guard Wes Brooks knows it's better for his team to lose now, early in the season, rather than later.

That didn't make Saturday's loss to Swarthmore at Gill Center any easier.


The Green Terror suffered their first Centennial Conference loss of the season, falling to the unbeaten Garnet, 62-56. Now, McDaniel has more than a month before its next conference game.

"We have a month to now learn from this," Brooks said. "They were cheering and kind of rubbing it in our face after the game, so we can get angry and work harder now and really improve."

The Terror (4-2, 2-1 Centennial) trailed for most of the game, but tied it at 49-49 when freshman guard Austin Cannon (Manchester Valley) sank a pair of free throws with 5 minutes, 27 seconds to go.

Then, McDaniel went cold. It turned the ball over on its next two possessions, missed its next four shots, and Swarthmore (6-0, 3-0) went on a 5-0 run. Garnet forward Chris Bourne scored on a tip-in with 3:39 to go and just over a minute later, Matt Brennan hit a 3-pointer from the left wing to make it 56-51.

"They hit their shots down the stretch and we missed," Terror coach Kevin Curley said. "It was a hard-fought game. They played hard. They're physical."

Swarthmore used that physicality to put McDaniel in foul trouble early. Terror senior forward Tim Stewart, the team's leading scorer and rebounder, picked up two fouls in the first six minutes and sat for the rest of the first half.

"Not to make excuses, but obviously that was tough," Curley said. "A lot of our offense does flow through him and then he had to sit there for a while, and he gets out of the rhythm. Then we're playing catch-up, too."

The Garnet were in the bonus with 9:34 to go before halftime. They used that to their advantage the whole game, going 16 for 20 at the free-throw line and scoring 32 of their 62 points in the paint.

Brooks led McDaniel with 18 points, five rebounds, and four steals. Stewart scored 11 and junior forward Kevin Yrizarry contributed 10 points and nine rebounds.

But the Green Terror had five players finish with four fouls each. And perhaps even more detrimental, they turned the ball over 17 times.

"Not only were they lost possessions, but we had no rhythm then after that," Brooks said. "We couldn't get a couple baskets in a row. We'd have short possessions where we play 25 seconds of defense, turn it over, and have to play it again and we're out of breath."

McDaniel plays three non-conference games before its next game against a Centennial opponent — a Jan. 7 home matchup against Franklin & Marshall, one of the top teams in the conference.

The Terror's two conference victories so far have been big ones — a home victory over Dickinson and a road win against Johns Hopkins, a pair of teams that made the conference tournament a season ago.

But Brooks said he knows the team still has a lot it can get better at heading into the new year.


"It's a bad loss for us because it's a home game, we always want to win every home game," Brooks said. "But I feel like we have a lot of room for improvement, so we're not too worried right now."