Junior guard Seth Clark (Lewis Center/Olentangy) and junior guard Nate Axelrod (Dublin/Coffman) each scored twice during an 11-0 first-half run that started the Ohio Wesleyan men’s basketball team on its way to a 110-55 North Coast Athletic Conference win over Allegheny on Saturday in Meadville, Pa.
The win clinches the NCAC championship for Ohio Wesleyan, the Battling Bishops’ third consecutive conference title. The Bishops’ 16 conference wins ties the school record set during the 2014-15 season. Ohio Wesleyan will be the No. 1 seed in this week’s NCAC tournament and will host Kenyon in a quarterfinal matchup at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.
Clark and senior post Ben Simpson (Lake Bluff, Ill./Lake Forest) buried 3-pointers during the early going, but the Gators stayed close, pulling within 14-11 on an Evan Zabriski lay-in with 13:21 left in the first half.
Junior wing Will Orr (Johnstown/Johnstown-Monroe) knocked down a 3-pointer on Ohio Wesleyan’s next possession, and Clark and Axelrod followed with buckets to push the lead to 21-11. Clark and Axelrod each scored again to give the Bishops a 25-11 advantage with 10:41 left in the half.
Orr hit a pair of 3-pointers during a 14-2 burst later in the first half. Orr and Axelrod connected from long range to close out the first-half scoring and give Ohio Wesleyan a 61-33 lead at the intermission, and the Bishops would pull away during the second half.
Orr led the Bishops with 21 points, all from beyond the arc. Clark finished with 20 points, Axelrod scored 16 points and dished out a team-best 6 assists, and Simpson finished with a double-double with 12 points and 10 boards.
Billy Urso led Allegheny with 11 points.
Senior post Taylor Dickson (Baltimore/Liberty Union) and freshman wing Claire Sterling (West Jefferson) combined to score Ohio Wesleyan’s first 11 points of the fourth quarter, and senior guard Megan Kuether (Osgood/Marion Local) sank 5 straight free throws during the final 2 minutes to help seal the outcome as the Bishops defeated Allegheny 80-68 in a North Coast Athletic Conference contest on Saturday in Meadville, Pa.
With the win, Ohio Wesleyan finishes in a 4-way tie for third place in the NCAC standings. The Bishops won the tiebreaker and will be the No. 3 seed in this week’s NCAC tournament, opening tournament play by hosting Denison in a quarterfinal contest at 8 p.m. on Tuesday.
After a nailbiting 30 minutes of basketball in which there was only one lead of more than 6 points, the Gators held a 59-58 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Dickson put Ohio Wesleyan ahead to stay with a lay-in, breaking a 65-65 tie with 5:06 left in regulation time. Sterling followed with a pair of free throws, kicking off a 10-3 run that also included a pair of buckets by freshman post Elea Karras (Bellbrook/Miami Valley) and another from freshman wing Nicole Popovich (Rocky River).
From there, Kuether took over, hitting a pair of free throws with 1:46 to play to extend the lead to 77-68, connecting twice more from the line with :36 left for a 79-68 lead, and adding one more with :08 remaining for the 80-68 final.
Kuether led the Bishops with 24 points. Sterling finished with 15 points and a game-high 10 rebounds, Popovich scored 13 points, and Dickson and Karras scored 12 points apiece.
Meaghan Wilby had a team-best 12 points for Allegheny.
OWU Sports Information contributed to this report.