St. Louis, Mo., Nov. 17, 2017 – The No. 9-ranked Washington University in St. Louis men's basketball team opened the 2017-18 season with an 82-70 win over Wabash College in the 34th Annual Lopata Class Friday at the WU Field House.
The Bears improved to 24-13 in season openers in head coach Mark Edwards' 37 years at WashU, including winning the last 12.
WashU takes on No. 6 Tufts University in the Lopata Classic Championship game Saturday at 7 p.m. Tufts posted an 83-68 win over Webster in the first game on Friday.
Four Bears reached double figures in the victory as senior guard Kevin Kucera led the way with 19 while freshman guard Jack Nolan added 17 in his WashU debut. Senior forward Andrew Sanders totaled 15 points and senior guard Jake Knupp chipped in 12. Kucera finished with a game-high nine assists and Knupp led the Bears with seven rebounds.
WashU shot 44.1-percent from the floor including 38.5-percent from beyond the arc. Kucera, Nolan and Knupp nailed three triples apiece as the Bears totaled 10 on the night compared to the Little Giants five.
Wabash used a 25-9 run to close out the first half with a 38-31 lead. The Little Giants outshot WashU 45.5-percent –to- 33.3-percent within the first half of play as the Bears went cold with nine minutes to play.
Knupp got things started in the second half with a triple on a dish by Kucera less than 20 seconds into the second half. Kucera assisted moments later on a dunk by senior David Schmelter to close the gap within two points, 38-36 in favor of Wabash.
Following a Wabash three-pointer, Sanders converted a layup followed by another trey from Knupp to even the score at 41-all. Wabash clung to the lead for a couple of minutes until a Sanders layup with 14:36 remaining pushed the Bears ahead 51-50.
The Bears went on a 17-0 run to claim a double digit lead on the way to closing out the game with the season opening victory. Jack Davidson (19) and Alex Eberhard (12) were the Wabash team-leaders in scoring.
BEAR NOTEBOOK: WashU and Wabash met for the first time since the 1986-87 season … The Bears have won three-straight meetings between the two teams, but the Little Giants hold a 15-5 advantage in the all-time series.