Hobart College senior guard Tim Llewellyn became the 23rd Statesmen to record 1,000 career points, leading his team to an 86-69 victory over Vassar College, securing the top seed in the Liberty League Men’s Basketball Championship Tournament.
The victory raises Hobart’s record to 19-6, one shy of the school record for wins in a season, and improves its conference mark to 11-3, matching the Statesmen’s best Liberty League record, set in 2000-01.
Hobart shares the regular season crown with Rensselaer (17-7, 11-3). The schools split their regular season home-and-home series, but the Statesmen earned the top seed by virtue of a season sweep of third place Skidmore (Rensselaer split with the Thoroughbreds).
Vassar, which ended the season on a 13-game losing streak, did not make things easy for Hobart. The teams were tied at 19 with 8:51 left in the first half when Llewellyn took matters into his own hands. Needing eight points to hit his career milestone, he broke the tie with a 3-pointer that put the Statesmen in the lead for good. The Brewers (3-22, 1-13) made 1-of-2 at the line at the other end of the floor followed by a pair of free throw makes by Hobart sophomore guard Stefan Thompson (4 pts, 7 assts). Vassar misfired and Llewellyn drilled another from long range to make it a 27-20 game.
Now just two shy of 1,000, Llewellyn, who is Hobart’s career steals leader, stalked Jon Herzog (15 pts) in the backcourt. When Herzog tried to throw a pass over Llewellyn’s head, he popped up out of his defensive stance, tipped the ball up in the air to himself, and converted an uncontested layup to hit the mark.
After a Vassar timeout, Llewellyn dialed long distance again, netting all 11 of his points in a three minute span that fueled a 13-1 Hobart run. The Statesmen led 44-29 at halftime.
Hobart opened the second half on an 8-1 run to bloat its lead to a game-high 22 points.
The Statesmen still had a 20-point edge with 10:27 remaining, but went scoreless over the next four minutes as the Brewers whittled their deficit down to seven. Sophomore Rezin Davis (12 pts) broke the drought with a 3-pointer, but Evan Carberry (13 pts) hit a 3 of his own and Sam Rappaport converted a layup off a Caleb McGraw (13 pts) steal to make it a five-point game, 69-64.
Fortunately for Hobart’s title hopes, the Statesmen kept their composure and ended the contest on a 17-5 run. Senior guard Mark Bruce recorded six of his game-high 19 points in the closing charge. He also logged game-highs of eight rebounds and five steals.
Junior forward Matt Pebole added 13 points for the Statesmen to move into 12th place on the all-time scoring list, passing John Grazioli ’08, who was in attendance for the annual Hobart basketball alumni weekend.
Hobart will face Hamilton (15-9, 9-5) in the Liberty League semifinals on Friday, Feb. 25 at 8 p.m. Skidmore (16-9, 10-4) and Rensselaer will lock horns in the other semifinal at 6 p.m. The championship game will be played at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 26.