DELAWARE – Steals on consecutive possessions by Ethan Stanislawski, Gabe Johnson and Curtis White all led to points to start a 16-0 run that put the Ohio Wesleyan men’s basketball team ahead for good.
A 15-0 run later in the half put it out of reach as the Battling Bishops defeated visiting Kenyon 87-57 Wednesday night at Branch Rickey Arena.
The win is OWU’s third straight and fourth in its last five games … and it came via its largest margin of victory so far this season.
“We’re growing as a team,” OWU coach Mike DeWitt said. “We didn’t want to take (Kenyon) lightly because we aren’t the team that we’ve been the last four or five years in terms of being able to just go out and dominate teams. But I thought we did that tonight.”
The freshmen trio led the way for the Bishops. Stanislawski had 25 points and seven rebounds, Johnson added 15 points, White chipped in 11 and all three had a couple of steals apiece.
“(My teammates) give me trust all of the time,” Stanislawski said. “They want me to shoot it, they want me to pass … they want me to be there for them. I feel like it’s my job to do my best for them. I love that they trust me and I trust them right back.”
“(Stanislawski) has a lot of potential,” DeWitt said. “Sometimes it takes freshmen a little while to adjust to the game – what you can get away with and what you can’t is just different than high school and he’s making that adjustment on the fly and doing some really good things for us.”
OWU has a slew of talented freshmen that have stepped up this season. Stanislawski and Johnson are seventh and eighth in the NCAC in scoring, respectively. White and Nick Carlson are also seeing significant time.
“This is a really good freshman class,” DeWitt said. “It’s fun to watch those guys develop and we’re getting better leadership from our upperclassmen too.”
Kenyon opened 9-4 when Stanislawski’s steal led to a two-on-one break. Stanislawski finished with a layup off a Johnson feed.
Johnson followed with a steal and converted a pair of free throws after getting fouled on a layup attempt.
White added a third steal and finished it with an uncontested layup to give the Bishops a 10-9 lead with 14:29 remaining in the half.
Stanislawski added a three-pointer and White finished the run with a three of his own to push the lead to 20-9.
An Elijah Davis jumper got the Lords as close as eight with 7:09 left in the first half.
But the Bishops followed with a 15-0 run to put it out of reach. Jaret Gerber and Johnson each hit three-pointers to highlight the run.
OWU led 45-27 at the break and extended the lead to as many as 32 in the second half.
Derrick Wyche led with eight rebounds and Tristin Tillman had four assists to lead the Bishops (8-2, 3-3).
Davis had 14 points, Ugnius Zilinskas added 13 points and Carter Powell had a game-high 12 rebounds and led the Lords (1-13, 0-7) with three assists and three steals to go with seven points.
Having lost three straight games, Ohio Wesleyan coach Stacey Ungashick Lobdell made a change to the starting lineup.
Well, four changes to be more accurate.
Changes or not – the Battling Bishops couldn’t keep up with Kenyon’s hot shooting in the first half.
The Ladies went 8-for-16 from deep and parlayed a 37-21 lead at the break into a 69-59 win at Branch Rickey Arena Wednesday night, handing host OWU its fourth straight loss and fifth in its last six games.
“Overall, we knew this was going to be a tough stretch in the conference – no doubt about it,” Ungashick Lobdell said. “We’re just going to have to fight through it and get back to work tomorrow.”
Grace Connery hit four threes in the first quarter, the last of which gave Kenyon a 14-11 lead with 1:01 remaining in the frame.
The Ladies never trailed again.
“Credit to (Kenyon) – they’re good shooters,” Ungashick Lobdell said. “We just get lost on a couple of possessions. I don’t know – that’s what we’re trying to figure out. We give up an eight- or 10-point deficit in as short an amount of time as you can and then we’re playing behind. We just have to figure out that part.”
Connery and Lane Davis finished with 15 points apiece, Paige Matijasich added 14 and Jessica Gerber chipped in 13 to lead the Ladies (11-5, 5-3), who have upped their winning streak to five over OWU.
Davis had seven rebounds and Gerber dished out seven assists for Kenyon.
OWU held Kenyon scoreless for nearly four minutes in the third quarter, but the Bishops managed just six points in that stretch to get within nine. They got within eight points in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t recover.
The Bishops used the lineup of Claire Sterling, Devin Hefner, Tia Karras, Elea Karras and Lisa Zeller the previous six games after Molly Delaney was forced out of the lineup because of injury.
Sterling remains the only one to have started all 15 games with Hefner and Zeller coming off the bench for the first time this season.
Meghann Dunning, Cierra Joiner, Erin Delaney and Nicole Popovich all cracked the starting lineup for the first time this season.
“When something doesn’t work – you have to figure out something else,” Ungashick Lobdell said. “We have 18 players who come every day. You have to give people a different look and find a combination that works.”
OWU did get some good news on the injury front. Molly Delaney only partially tore her ACL. She says she could be back in 2-3 weeks.
Tia Karras had 20 points and Sterling added 15 points and eight rebounds to lead the Bishops (8-7, 3-2).
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at [email protected]