CHESTERTOWN, Md. – Franklin & Marshall dropped a heartbreaking 63-60 defeat to Washington in the first round of the men's basketball Centennial Conference (CC) playoffs Tuesday evening. The loss ends F&M's 2018-19 campaign with a 15-11 record as the Shoremen improved to 14-12 and advanced to CC semifinals on Friday against Swarthmore.
Washington had an early 7-5 lead three minutes into the game and both teams struggled to find the net during the next three minutes of action. Mike Rice broke the drought with a triple to bring F&M within a point, 9-8, with 13:26 on the clock. F&M tied the game at 12-12, before the Shoremen scored seven straight for a 19-12 lead with a little more than 10 minutes left in the half. The Diplomats countered with a 10-3 run to come within a point, 23-22, at 5:08 and Washington answered with a 12-5 spurt to close out the half and took a 34-28 lead into the break.
Four straight by F&M made it a two-point game early in the second, before the Shoremen matched with four of their own for a 34-32 lead at 17:21. Six points from Justin Kupa led F&M on an 8-0 run that gave the Diplomats their first lead of the game, 40-38, with 15:22 left to play. The teams traded points over the next seven minutes with the Shoremen holding onto a 50-44 edge at 8:18.
F&M went on an 8-1 run and took a 52-51 lead at 4:30 and a free throw from Kupa at 1:42 put F&M out front 58-56, but seven straight from Washington over the next 1:31 gave the Shoremen a five-point lead, 63-58 with 11 ticks on the clock. F&M had one final shot as Kupa was fouled shooting a three with five seconds and made 2-of-3 free throws, missing the third on purpose, with F&M maintaining possession with 4.5 ticks on the clock. A last second three-point attempt from Les Thomas was short as time expired to seal the win for Washington.
Justin Kupa had a game-high 26 points, hitting 4-of-6 from behind the arc and 8-of-9 from the line. Matt Redhead netted 10 with 11 rebounds for a double-double and J.C. McGrath grabbed 14 boards to go along with seven points and four blocks.
F&M held a slight 45-43 edge on the glass, and outshot the Shoremen from the line 82-76-percent, but Washington led in field goal percentage at 35-27-percent.