The Hobart basketball team rallied from a 8-point second half deficit to defeat Nazareth 72-63 and win its first Wendy’s College Classic Championship. Tournament MVP Stefan Thompson led the Statesmen with 17 points, a game-high four assists, and two blocked shots.
Hobart won its first Wendy’s title in its fifth championship game appearance and 27th tournament appearance, while giving Head Coach Mike Neer his 11th tournament crown (10 at Rochester). The Statesmen improved to 6-0, marking the program’s best start in its 102-season history.
Thompson was joined in double digits by Richie Bonney (16 points), Matt Pebole (13 points, 12 rebounds), and Greg Stern (10 points). Bonney and Pebole both earned All-Tournament honors. Hobart shot 46.9 percent from the floor, including 9-of-15 from beyond the arc, and missed just one free throw, finishing the game 17-of-18 from the charity stripe.
Tyshun Stephens paced Nazareth (5-2) with 17, while Dan Waldbillig produced 15 points and 12 rebounds. Phil Scaffidi chipped in 11 points and Brad Ford had seven points and 10 rebounds.
Featuring two evenly matched teams, the lead changed hands eight times in the first half. The Statesmen held a 12-2 advantage in points off turnovers in the first 20 minutes, while the Golden Flyers had a 12-2 edge in second chance points. Nazareth took a 36-34 lead into halftime thanks to Dan Waldbillig’s layup with 27 seconds left.
Four minutes into the second half, Stephens made a short jumper that gave Nazareth its largest lead of the night, 45-37. Over the next four minutes, Hobart scored 11 unanswered points to take the lead. Bonney, who came into the game with just one 3-pointer made all year, capped the surge with back-to-back 3-pointers.
The Golden Flyers tied the game three times over the next three minutes, but each time Hobart countered the threat. After Stephens tied the game for the final time at 52-all, Thompson sank a pair of free throws, Pebole sank a 3-ball, and Thompson got a steal for a fast break layup to put the Statesmen in front by seven.
Ford hit a 3-pointer with 2:34 left in the contest to make it a 1-point game, but Bonney hit a layup to stretch the lead to 3. From there, the Statesmen played stifling defense and went 6-for-6 from the free throw line to secure to victory.
Hobart will be back in action at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10, when the Statesmen host Rochester in Bristol Gym.