SWARTHMORE, Pa. — No. 1-ranked Swarthmore averted an upset last week, outscoring Washington by a 2-to-1 margin in the second half after falling behind by as many as 14 points before intermission.
Seniors Zac O’Dell and Nate Shafer combined to score 17 points in the second half, fueling the unbeaten Garnet’s 68-56 come-from-behind victory Nov. 26.
This was the Centennial Conference opener for both schools. Swarthmore, the 2018-19 national runner-up, is favored to repeat as CC champion.
After going 0-of-5 from the floor in the first half, Shafer finished as the team’s leading scorer with 14 points. His line included nine rebounds, one block, one assist and one steal — and no fouls — in 29 minutes.
The 6-foot-7 O’Dell collected his fourth double-double on the year with 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
George Visconti tallied 10 points and Colin Shaw contributed eight points and eight rebounds for Swarthmore, which returns four starters from last year’s 29-4 squad.
Washington junior guard Barry McCormick led all players with 16 points. Daniel Brown and Alec Lewis added 14 and 10 points, respectively.
The other two Shore starters — senior captains Austin Allen and Dallas Marshall (nine rebounds) — totaled 10 points.
Washington received only six points from its bench on 3-of-7 shooting from the floor, which included 0-of-3 from outside the 3-point arc.
Catching their hosts off-guard, the Shoremen raced out to a 22-8 lead with 8 minutes, 25 seconds elapsed after scoring 15 unanswered points.
But business-like Swarthmore (6-0) chipped away at the deficit, pulling to within 31-28 on an O’Dell layup with 1:08 remaining in the opening half.
Washington (2-5) closed with a 5-0 run, punctuated by Brown’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer to make it 36-28 at the break.
The 6-foot-6 Shafer scored 12 points in the second half, including crowd-pleasing slam dunks at 17:36 and 15:15.
Swarthmore deadlocked at 42 on a pair of Shafter free throws with 12:13 remaining and took the lead for good, 45-42, at 11:10 on a Justin Tucker 3-pointer.
The Garnet scored 12 points in a row as part of an 18-2 run, and held Washington without a field goal for nearly 11 minutes of the second half.
The margin was double digits, 65-54, on a Conor Harkins three with 2:09 to go.
The Shoremen traveled to the Windy City on Saturday for a non-conference game with the University of Chicago. The locals were out of their league, trailing 42-17 at halftime on the way to an 85-51 loss.
The Maroons were led by junior forward Dominic Laravie’s game-high 23 points. Three others also scored in double figures for the home team, which presented head coach Mike McGrath with his 300th win in 21 seasons.
Junior guard Derrick Carter in 14 minutes off the bench scored 10 points as the only Shoreman in double digits.
Washington shot only 25 percent from the floor and was out-rebounded, 65-34.
Brown (eight points) gave the Shoremen their only lead, 2-0, on a layup 33 seconds into the game.
UChicago scored the next 12 points.
Another 12-0 run extended the spread to 40-30 with 2:03 remaining in the half.
The Maroons’ largest lead of the first half was 42-11 with just under two minutes to play.
They led by as many as 36 points in the second half.
Washington is home Saturday against conference rival Franklin & Marshall. Game time is 3 p.m.