DELAWARE – Gabe Johnson turned his own rebound on the defensive end into a layup through contact on the offensive end during a pivotal sequence of the Ohio Wesleyan’s men’s basketball team’s 68-60 win over Hiram in NCAC play Saturday afternoon at Branch Rickey Arena.
Johnson was fouled on the play, but missed the free at the line. The layup pushed OWU’s lead to 53-49 with 9:35 left in the second half a possession after Jack Clement found Grant Gossard for a dunk to give the Battling Bishops the lead for good.
“(Johnson) is super-competitive and because of that he probably overdoes it sometimes and that’s where he makes his mistakes,” OWU coach Mike DeWitt said. “But I’d rather have him that way, than not because he does a lot of great things. He competes (and) he makes plays.”
Johnson was 1-for-5 from the field, missed both three-point attempts and was held to just two points in the first half.
DeWitt pointed out one of those plays – a three-pointer on the left wing off an Ethan Stanislawski feed that gave the Bishops a 58-53 lead with 3:21 left – was one of three from long range down the stretch that helped OWU push the lead as high as 11.
“That kind of gave us some breathing room in terms of not having to get stops every time,” DeWitt said. “His stats will probably look pretty good in some respects and pretty poor in other respects.”
The sophomore finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals and was one of four in double figures for the Bishops (5-2, 1-1).
“We have a mentality in our locker room, which is ‘Do it for each other,’” Johnson said. “You’re going to struggle at times – everyone does. There’s not a single person that’s perfect. When (someone) struggles – have everyone else pick them up and they picked me up early and we got after it in the second half.”
Stanislawski had 14 points, Gossard had 13 and Grant Spicer added 11 and five rebounds for OWU, which led 35-32 at the half after trailing 10-2 early.
OWU is young. Six out of the 10 players that saw time are freshmen and sophomores, including three in the starting lineup in a league where a lot of the top teams feature seniors.
“We have a lot of talented teams in our conference,” Johnson said. “So, we have to be on our game all of the time. As long as we can stay consistent – that’s going to be big for us.”
DeWitt is more concerned about improvement than wins and losses.
“I think we’ve got a group that really wants to improve and wants to get better and that was a point of emphasis after we came back from Wabash,” he said. “Even though we lost (79-61 Dec. 4) … we just went over there and didn’t get any better. I felt like we were a better basketball team today than we were Wednesday.”
Sherman Dean III had 17 points and four rebounds and Brodgie Gordon added 14 points, four rebounds and three assists to lead the Terriers (3-5, 1-2).
Molly Delaney scored 11 points and Nicole Popovich added seven in a 21-2 first-quarter rally that put the OWU women’s basketball team on top for good.
Delaney finished with 15 points and Popovich added 11 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Bishops to an 81-55 win over Hiram on Saturday afternoon at Branch Rickey Rickey Arena.
“I had (knee) surgery over the summer to kind of scope everything out and I feel so much better,” Delaney said. “I feel like that’s really helped me this season so far.”
“(Delaney) was struggling a little bit from the field (coming into the game),” OWU coach Stacy Ungashick Lobdell said. “But she still did all of the little things. She’s kind of the glue that keeps our team together because she makes plays when she has to, she sees the floor and she can pass the ball and she can shoot the ball. Today, she attacked the basket really well.”
Leah Maniaci capped the rally with a three-pointer to give OWU a 21-5 lead with 2:56 left in the opening quarter.
Maniaci was 4 of 5 from behind the arc and finished with 16 points; Delaney added 15 points, four rebounds and four assists; and Popovich added 11 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Bishops (3-4, 1-1).
The Terriers fought back and got as close as three on a Madison Branch layup off an Alainna Conroy steal on the first possession of the second half.
Maniaci knocked down a pair of three-pointers and Meghann Dunning added another as OWU pushed its lead to 14 by the end of the third before pulling away in the fourth.
“Coach really challenged us at halftime to create a response and I think we all just came together and focused on defense,” Delaney said.
Claire Sterling had 14 points and three steals, Dunning had nine points and six assists and Cierra Joiner pulled down a game-high 15 rebounds and added six points and three steals for the Bishops.
“I think everybody came in and gave us a spark,” Ungashick Lobdell said. “Julia Kopp came off the bench and Danielle (DeBose) came in and had a big block, Claire struggled with foul trouble (in the first half) and Cierra came in (and played well) in the last four minutes.
“That’s what we need. Even when you have times in a game when you’re not playing your best – you have to fight through it.”
Branch had 17 points, Tashauna Wright had 10 points, 12 rebounds and four assists and Amanda Holzman added 10 points to lead the Terriers (2-7, 0-2).
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.