The Wooster Men’s basketball team won its fourth consecutive NCAC Tournament Championship last weekend in Springfield, Ohio, defeating Ohio Wesleyan University on Friday in the semifinal and Denison University on Saturday in the final.
On Friday, the second-seeded Scots (24-4, 12-4 NCAC) took on the third-seeded Battling Bishops (20-7, 11-5) in a high-scoring matchup. Both teams shot 29-of-63 from the field, but Wooster’s better play from three-point range and at the free throw line earned them an 89-80 victory.
The Scots were able to build up a 12-point lead in the first half, leading 26-14 with nine minutes to play in the period. Ohio Wesleyan narrowed the gap, but was held largely at bay as Wooster entered halftime with a 41-34 lead.
Wooster opened scoring in the second half with two field goals from Josh Claytor ’13, but the Bishops countered and quickly narrowed the deficit to 47-41 with less than 17 minutes left. From that point on it was all Scots, as they went on a 21-9 run featuring six three-pointers by four different players.
Ohio Wesleyan battled back, getting the game to as close as 77-72 with just over two minutes left. The Scots sealed the game at the line, making 10 of their 12 free throws in the final minutes to win 89-80.
Fifth-seeded Denison (14-14, 9-7) met Wooster in the tournament final after upsetting top-seeded Wittenberg University. Despite their mediocre record, the Big Red were a worthy opponent for the Scots in the defensive struggle. Wooster led for the entire first half, but only had a 28-26 advantage at the break.
Denison took a 35-34 lead with 17 minutes to play, and they led the Scots until Thorpe’s three-pointer with less than seven minutes left gave Wooster a 49-48 advantage.
Wooster’s defense stepped up in the clutch, holding Denison scoreless for the next three minutes and not allowing a field goal until the 1:39 mark while also forcing three turnovers in that span. The Big Red’s field goal made it a 53-51 game. Claytor’s foul on the next Denison possession put Dimonde Hale at the line for a chance to tie the game. Hale missed both free throws, but Claytor missed a layup that would have made it a two-possession game.
Denison inbounded the ball with 5.8 seconds left. Larry Farmer’s attempt inside bounced off the rim, but Wooster knocked it out of bounds with 1.6 to play, giving Denison another chance. Brett Tiberi’s three-point attempt to win the game was an air ball, and the Scots walked off the court with their 14th NCAC Tournament championship.
On Monday, Wooster was selected as a host site for the NCAA Div. III Men’s Basketball Tournament. Tonight, Capital University will take on Randolph-Macon College, followed by a game pitting Wooster against Maryville College.