DELAWARE – The Ohio Wesleyan men’s basketball team fought back from a 14-point deficit to send it to overtime, but couldn’t overcome an 11-2 surge by Oberlin in the extra frame, falling 88-84 in NCAC play Monday night.
“We’re just at a point where we’re so inconsistent,” OWU coach Mike DeWitt said. “For example, I don’t know what I’m going to get from a lot of our guys when I put them in the game – whether they’re going to play great or poorly. That’s a problem, obviously.”
Curtis White gave OWU its first lead at 74-72 with 4:47 left in the extra frame.
The Bishops had a chance to add to it, but Joshua Friedkin had a steal and knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Yeomen the lead. He hit two more from long range as Oberlin scored 11 of the next 13 points to put it out of reach for good.
“We had some momentum there and we completely shot ourselves in the foot with some really bad decisions and turnovers,” DeWitt said. “(We weren’t) able to make an adjustment defensively with Josh Friedkin, who mad three threes. You understand when he gets one. But when he gets two more on the same play – that’s our guys not understanding what’s going on.”
Friedkin’s effort propelled the Yeomen to their first win over OWU since Dec. 11, 1999 – a nice gift for first-year assistant coach Nate Axelrod, who wrapped up his illustrious career at OWU last season.
Axelrod claimed to be business as usual before the game.
“I’m not really a nostalgic person,” he said. “It’s cool seeing Coach (Nate) Conley, Coach DeWitt and some of the players I used to play with. It’s just (about) being focused on the task at hand.”
DeWitt was happy for Axelrod’s success … to a point.
“Obviously, he holds a special place in our basketball program,” DeWitt said. “He’s gonna have a lot of success. Obviously, it’s disappointing to lose with him on the other sideline. But at the same time I’m proud of him because he’s a big part of why they’re a good team.”
Friedkin and Andre Campbell had 20 points and five rebounds apiece to lead the Yeomen (9-6, 5-3).
Christian Fioretti had 14 points and six assists, Wolf Moser added 12 points and Eli Silverman-Lloyd chipped in nine points and seven rebounds to back Oberlin.
Oberlin never trailed in regulation, starting 4-0 and pushing the lead to six early before OWU came back to tie it 26-26 with 8:14 left in the half.
Moser buried a pair of 3-pointers in a 10-1 Yeomen run and pushed the lead as high 13 in the final minute of the first half before a Nick Carlson jumper with 17 seconds left cut OWU’s deficit to 46-35 going into the break.
Oberlin pushed the lead as high as 14 with an 8-0 run in the second half. Fioretti and Isaac Finestone each knocked down threes before a Finestone block turned into a Fioretti layup to cap it with 10:15 left in regulation.
OWU held Oberlin to five points the rest of the way, shutting the Yeomen out for the final 3:08.
Ethan Stanislawski tied it up on a layup with 34 seconds left. OWU got it back on a Jaret Gerber steal with 2 seconds left, but Stanislawski’s 27-foot bid to win rimmed out.
Axelrod isn’t the first player from last year’s squad to return to OWU as a coach. Seth Clark is a graduate assistant at Otterbein University, which visited Branch Rickey Nov. 20 in a game won by the Bishops 82-76.
Grant Gossard had 18 points and seven rebounds, Stanislawski added 17 points and six boards, Carlson chipped in 16 points and Gabe Johnson and Tim Kiefer each dished out four assists to lead the Bishop (8-7, 3-5).
OWU is back in action Wednesday night at 7 p.m. when it hosts Wittenberg in conference play.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at [email protected]