The Ohio Wesleyan men’s basketball team spotted Wooster eight points at the start of the game and never fully recovered in a 73-70 NCAC loss Saturday afternoon at Branch Rickey Arena in Delaware.
“Wooster played harder than us, they payed more attention to detail on the scouting report and they were just tougher than we were,” OWU coach Mike DeWitt said. “The bottom line is that they came in and beat us because of those things.”
The ninth-ranked Battling Bishops struggled to rebound, particular on Wooster’s end of the court.
The Fighting Scots held a 51-30 advantage on the glass overall, pulling down 21 offensive boards in the process, led by Alex Baptiste with 11 total rebounds and nine on the offensive end.
“If we’re not tough enough to put a body on somebody and keep them off the boards – we’re going to get out-rebounded,” DeWitt said. “We know Alex Baptiste is a great offensive rebounder. But, to allow him nine offensive rebounds is inexcusable. You need to give Alex credit for making the effort.”
Spencer Williams and Eric Bulic finished with nine rebounds apiece for Wooster.
Four Scots finished with double-figures in points – Danyon Hempy (16), Williams (14), Bulic (13) and Reece Dupler (12),
Wooster pushed the lead as high as 14 in the first half and 13 in the second half.
Baptiste had five offensive boards on one possession early in the second half. He found Hempy for a layup to finally cap the marathon to give the Scots (10-3, 4-2) a nine-point lead again.
“I’m just very disappointed in our lack of emotion coming into the game,” DeWitt said. “We’re playing a team that got picked to win the conference and a team that we have battled with for conference titles – certainly over these seniors’ last three years. We just were flat and it was really frustrating as a coach to watch that team go out there because I haven’t seen that team all year.”
OWU did enough to stay close, but couldn’t get over the hump.
The biggest opportunity came on an intentional foul called on Hempy with 1:32 left and the Bishops trailing 66-61, giving the Bishops a chance to cut it to one or tie it in one possession.
But, Nate Axelrod – a normally reliable foul shooter at just over 81 percent – missed both free throws and OWU never got closer than three. They were his only two misses in 10 attempts for the game.
Wooster jumped out to an 8-0 lead and pushed the lead as high 14 at 20-6 with 9:52 left in the first half as OWU committed eight turnovers in the first 9 minutes, 16 seconds. The Bishops finished the half with 10 and the game with 11.
Axelrod had 30 points to lead the Bishops (10-3, 5-1), but made only nine of 22 shots from the field.
“We left it up to Nate to make some tough finishes at the basket – which he didn’t make as many as he usually does,” DeWitt said. “He wasn’t getting fouled – he just missed them. Again, it was a good game-plan (by Wooster) combined with our poor execution, and you got the result you got.”
Next, OWU continues NCAC play Wednesday night against Hiram. Tip is set for 7:30 p.m.
Wooster junior Anna Gibbs scored on back-to-back possessions to cap a 10-1 run in the second quarter and the Ohio Wesleyan women’s basketball team never led again in a 59-53 loss in NCAC action Saturday afternoon at Branch Rickey Arena in Delaware.
“I think at the beginning of the game, we didn’t play with the purpose that we had talked about the last couple of days … which is frustrating,” OWU coach Stacey Ungashick Lobdell said.
Gibbs scored 21 points to lead the Fighting Scots (3-11, 1-4), who snapped an 11-game losing streak after winning their first two games of the season.
Sarah Rapacz and Cat Fiorito had nine rebounds apiece for Wooster, which outrebounded OWU 24-14 in the second half and 44-35 overall.
OWU had control thanks to a 6-0 spurt to close the first quarter that was extended to an 8-0 run early in the second. Claire Sterling capped the run with a buzzer-beater to close the first and a basket to open the second.
“I think Claire’s really turned the corner – personally and as a player,” Ungashick Lobdell said. “She’s decided that she’s going to do whatever she has to do to improve herself as a player and I really feel that now, she’s not only playing to her potential, but she’s really focused on technical things and she’s really doing a good job fundamentally.”
But, the Scots started the second half 6-0 on layups by Akwia Tilton, Gibbs and Erica Roberts to extend a 28-24 halftime lead to 10.
OWU got it as close as three on three occasions in the fourth quarter, but a Gibbs three-pointer pushed the lead to six.
Sterling led with 17 points and 11 rebounds and Elea Karras added 11 for the Battling Bishops (1-13, 0-5), which lost their sixth straight.
“I think the important thing is that this team shows persistence – even if we’re not getting the result we want,” Ungashick Lobdell said. “It’s natural to want to pull apart when you don’t get the result that you want and I haven’t felt that from this team even though it’s (disappointing or frustrating).”
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at email@example.com.
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