MIDDLETOWN, Conn. — Wesleyan University scored 13 unanswered points at the start of the second half to stretch its lead into double digits, on the way to an 88-49 men’s basketball victory over the University of New England in the first round of the Red & Black Holiday Tournament played Friday evening at Wesleyan’s Silloway Gymnasium.

Winners of five straight, the Cardinals (9-2) advance into Saturday’s event final against either Anna Maria College or Wheaton College (Mass.). The Nor’easters (1-7) will meet the other squad in the consolation match slated for 1 p.m.

Joseph Kuo led the hosts with a double-double of 17 points and 13 rebounds, and Harry Rafferty contributed 16 points off the bench on 6-of-9 shooting. After Rafferty’s four treys, Joe Edmonds and Jack Mackey knocked down three apiece to finish with 13 and 11 points, respectively. Both corralled seven boards to help secure a 50-29 advantage on the glass.

After connecting on just 31 percent of their field goals and going 5-for-10 at the line during the first 20 minutes, the Cardinals dropped in 64 percent of their tries from the floor in the closing period while converting 14-of-17 at the stripe.

For UNE, sophomore CJ Autry set the pace with 12 points, including nine in the opening frame. Junior Devin Thompson and sophomore Tom Nason each added seven.

The Nor’easters had the upper hand (7-6) early on, and Autry sparked a 10-0 spurt with five points that pushed the cushion to 17-6 less than seven minutes into the first half. Big Blue made six of its first eight shot attempts in the contest, with the appropriate range on both tries from deep and all three free throws.

Rafferty helped Wesleyan counter right back with the first eight points of 10 in-a-row. Then, still trailing at 21-16, the Cardinals put together a stretch of nine consecutive points to swing the edge (25-21) in their favor. The home side led 31-26 at the break despite its shooting struggles, while UNE settled back to 32 percent accuracy in the stanza after the hot start.

Mackey hit a pair of triples to aid the 13-0 run coming out of halftime, and Wesleyan out-scored the Nor’easters by a margin of 34-5 over the initial portion of the 2nd half to gain full control.

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