Wilkes men’s basketball got off to a dominant start in this season’s installment of the Cross County Challenge on Saturday afternoon in a 110-92 victory over Marywood at the Marts Center. The Colonels all shot well — 60-percent from the floor, 45-percent from long range — and led by 28 points at halftime.
With every Colonel scoring points and the team tacking assists on to 32 of 43 field goals, everyone played a role in their first 100-point output since the 2014-15 season. Those looking for the performance of the day, though, need to look no further than guard Connor Evans.
Evans, a sophomore from Cicero, New York, had a career game in more than one category. For starters, he led all scorers with a career-high 25 points, his second 20-point game of this season and in his Colonels career. More impressive, though, was his final assists total — which put Evans on a short list in Wilkes’ record books.
Evans reached his first career double-double by dishing out 12 assists, which ties for second in Colonels history for a single game (Chris Shovlin also had 12 against Penn State Wilkes-Barre in January 2013). Jay Reimel has owned the program’s single-game high for nearly a half-century now, having recorded 14 assists against FDU-Madison on Dec. 1, 1969.
Following Evans’ showing against the Pacers, there have been only a dozen 10-assist games in Wilkes history. The feat has been accomplished by just eight different players; Pat McCue reached the 10-assist plateau three times, tallying exactly 10 twice in 1979-80 and getting to 11 the next season. As it turns out, Evans has nearly had two 10-assist games already — as a freshman, he was credited with nine helpers against Eastern on Feb. 3.
All of this is a long way of saying that, even as a sophomore, Evans can be a game-changer for Wilkes. He runs fastbreaks hard — Wilkes out-scored Marywood on breaks, 24-4 — and isn’t afraid to attack the rim himself. Against the Pacers, he started and finished a break by turning around a defender on an in-and-out dribble and finding the lane for a lay-in.
As Colonels coach Izzi Metz put it, the guard listed at 5-foot-9, 165 pounds plays like a 6-foot-5, 220-pounder.
“Connor’s just a fearless player, sometimes to a fault. He tends to land on the ground sometimes and you wonder if he’s going to get back up,” Metz said after Saturday’s win. “But that’s just how he was raised. That’s how he’s played the game. That’s not my coaching; that’s Connor, what he’s comfortable doing. He’s an attacking type of player.”