SANTA CLARA, Calif. – In the opening game of the 46th annual Cable Car Classic, Wagner took down SMU 63-53 to move to the title game for the second consecutive season. Wagner moves to 5-4 while SMU falls to 8-4. The Seahawks will play the winner of Santa Clara vs. Alcorn State at 8:15 p.m. while SMU will play the loser at 6 p.m. Wagner won the Cable Car Classic last year with a 64-62 victory over the Broncos.
Wagner was led on offense by Jonathon Williams with 13 points and Eric Fanning with 11. Williams and Mario Moody grabbed a team-high seven rebounds each. SMU was led by Nick Russell with 20 and Jalen Jones added 14 points and a game-high 14 boards.
The Mustangs shot 34.0% (18-53) from the field and 4-8 from downtown while the Seahawks shot 48.6% (18-37) from the field and 4-12 from three
SMU's Manuel scored a three-point play with 18:44 to put SMU up 3-0. Kenny Ortiz scored the first points of the night for Wagner on a runner in the lane at the 16:54 mark.
On the next offensive possession the Seahawks took their first lead of the game on a long two from the corner by Josh Thompson.
With the shot clock expiring and just under 14 minutes remaining in the half, Williams knocked down a three from the top of the key in the face of the defense to extend the lead to 7-3.
Jones of SMU tipped in a miss but the next possession for Wagner saw Williams knock down two free throws to keep the lead at four points.
Wagner extended its lead out to 15-5 with an 8-0 run over 5:23 behind Fanning and two buckers from Orlando Parker.
SMU finally ended the scoreless drought with a basket and the foul by Jones to cut the lead to eight at 15-7. The free throw was good to make it 15-8 Wagner.
Wagner responded with a three pointer by Langston Burnett to get the lead back to double digits and drew an offensive foul on Shawn Williams to get the ball back but couldn't connect.
SMU cut the lead to five points with a 6-1 run over two minutes that made the score 21-16 at the under four minute media timeout.
Out of the timeout Wagner ended the run at the 2:53 mark with Dwaun Anderson hitting two free throws to put the score at 23-16.
London Giles answered the next time down the floor with a three ball from the corner that hit nothing but net and Jones made a steal on the next Wagner possession and got to the line for two shots. Jones made both free throws to cut the deficit to just two at 23-21.
A missed layup by Parker of Wagner led to a fast break for Manuel who got fouled and tied the game with two from the charity stripe. A defensive stop and layup by Nick Russell put SMU up 25-23.
The lead was short-lived as Fanning nailed a three the next trip down the court to put the Seahawks back up 27-26.
Manuel put the Mustangs up two with a tip-in and a foul with one minute left in the half and Russell nailed a jumper to extend the lead to 30-26 the next time down the floor.
SMU ended the first half on a 22-8 run over the final 7:40 and entered the half with a 30-26 lead. Jones led the Mustangs with 11 points. Fanning and Williams led the Seahawks with five points each. SMU shot 35.5% (11-35) from the field and 1-3 from three while Wagner shot 40.9% (9-22) and 3-8 from beyond the arc.
Right out of the lockerroom SMU turned the ball over and gave Wagner a chance to cut into the lead. On the ensuing possession Anderson slipped trying to drive and Jones picked up the loose ball. Jones went the distance and laid the ball up to make the score 32-26.
Wagner answered with a runner in the lane by Ortiz for the first Seahawks points of the second half.
The next Wagner possession Josh Thompson nailed a three to get the Seahawks within one. Naofall Folahan blocked a shot on defense and Fanning made a fast break layup and a free throw to put Wagner up 34-32.
Wagner continued its run with a free throw by Thompson to push the lead to three points. Thompson missed the second free throw but Wagner grabbed the offensive board and scored a fluky play. Ortiz passed the ball into the key and it hit several hands before going off the backboard and into the basket.
The Seahawks continued on an 18-0 run over 7:10 to start the half until Jones made a layup to put the score at 44-35.
The Seahawks answered with a dunk by Mario Moody on a put back that got the lead back into double digits at 11.
The Mustangs cut the lead to 10 on a three by Manuel at 10:36 but Wagner answered with three free throws, two by Williams and one by Ortiz, to get back up by 13.
Manuel made a terrific put back dunk on a miss by Cannen Cunningham to make the score 51-40. Manuel appeared to jump on a trampoline and wait in the air for the ball before slamming it home with authority.
SMU cut the lead to single digits on a three pointer by Russell with six minutes. Giles followed with a steal and Manuel dunked on a fast break get the game within seven points.
Wagner led and used good ball movement to get a dunk for Moody and add two to the lead. Two free throws by Williams pushed the lead out to 56-46 out of the under four media timeout and Ortiz added another at the 2:21 mark.
On the following SMU possession Cannen nailed a three and then got fouled going up for a layup after a Wagner turnover. He nailed both free throws to cut the lead to six at 57-51. The Mustangs forced another turnover in the backcourt and Manuel got to the line with 1:33 remaining. He hit one of two to cut the deficit to five at 57-52.
Williams drove to the basket and was fouled going up. He hit the first free throw and missed the second but Ortiz grabbed the offensive board.
SMU fouled Williams with 52 seconds left and he made one free throw to get the lead to 59-52.
Wagner iced the game by hitting its free throws and came away with a 63-53 win to advance to the Cable Car Classic championship game for the second consecutive year.