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Harkins, No. 11 Swarthmore tie conference wins record

01/20/2022, 1:45am EST
By Ty Daubert

Ty Daubert (@TyDaubert)

COLLEGEVILLE — Even down a key piece, Swarthmore has continued to surge.

With standout guard Vinny DeAngelo missing his third straight game, the Garnet collective stepped up to fend off Ursinus 78-61 in a Centennial Conference matchup on Wednesday night at Helfferich Hall for their 12th straight win.

Conor Harkins (above) and Swarthmore haven't lost a regular-season league game since 2018-19. (Photo: Ty Daubert/CoBL)

“We got 18 guys on our team who can all play,” fifth-year senior Conor Harkins said. “That’s the kind of mindset we have every day in practice and in games. It’s just kind of next man up and keep on moving.”

Ten of those players saw rotation minutes on Wednesday as Swarthmore (15-1, 9-0), ranked No. 11 in the latest poll, added another win despite missing its leading scorer. A full team effort got it done against Ursinus to pull away near the end of a largely back-and-forth affair. 

Harkins led the Garnet with 17 points, while George Visconti and Aidan Godfrey followed closely with 15 and 13, respectively. Five other Swarthmore players scored at least five points.

A 12-point (4-4 3PT) first half from Harkins helped the Garnet keep things tied 38-38 against strong offensive performances from Bears guards Ryan Hughes and Trevor Wall.

In the second half, the score remained close for the beginning of the period before Swarthmore began to build a lead near the midpoint. With the Garnet on a run, Godfrey hit a 3-pointer with just under nine minutes remaining to go up 10 points for the first time, and Swarthmore never looked back.

Alongside the likes of Major Eason and Justin Tucker, Godfrey was a player given a larger role with extra minutes to be had. The freshman forward made the most of it in this one.

“The guys were just ready,” Swarthmore head coach Landry Kosmalski said,” and excited for the opportunity.”

To go along with his 13 points and big shot, Godrey grabbed 10 rebounds, second to teammate Michael Caprise’s 16. Overall, Swarthmore dominated the glass and was especially effective in creating second-chance scoring chances. The Garnet recorded 21 offensive rebounds compared to Ursinus’ six. 

That discrepancy was too much for the Bears to overcome by the end. The rebounding will obviously be one aspect for Ursinus to clean up going forward, and the offense has some adjustments to make as well. 

Hughes scored 21 and Wall scored 16 points, but the Bears were a bit too dependent on those two for offense in the game. Swarthmore’s defense prevented others from getting more involved. Ursinus (8-5, 5-3) will look to make that fix against McDaniel on Saturday after battling against Swarthmore and Johns Hopkins in back-to-back games.

“I’m proud of the fact our guys played a really spirited game,” Ursinus head coach Kevin Small said. “They fought, they were tough. Our level of execution wasn’t what it’s been, but we’re also playing against a really terrific defense just like Hopkins.”

With the win, Swarthmore tied a Centennial Conference record with 35 conference wins in a row, dating back to the 2018-2019 season. It has another conference matchup against Dickinson on Saturday.

Since DeAngelo (16.8 ppg) suffered a leg injury during the Garnet’s win over Johns Hopkins last week, his teammates have ripped off three victories in a row in his absence while climbing to their latest spot in the rankings.

While notable, that national ranking isn’t something Kosmalski and his team focuses on. In their eyes, it’s more of a distraction than anything. Swarthmore tries to just handle the things it's capable of handling and let everyone else worry about the rest.

“We can’t control the rankings,” Kosmalski said. “We can control coming to practice every day, bringing our best selves, getting more connected as a team and getting better. It’s boring, but we talk about that every day.”

The same idea applies when dealing with an injury. DeAngelo is currently out for an indefinite amount of time — Kosmalski said he’s taking it “day-by-day” — and the team can’t control when the Sun Valley product and 2019-20 national freshman of the year steps back on the court. Until he’s back, it’s up to the players available to keep stepping up and performing in the chances they have in front of them.

“Obviously, we miss Vinny a lot,” Harkins said. “He’s one of the best players in the country. But we just need to keep moving.”

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