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Men’s basketball drops hard-fought contest to Wabash

Saeed Husain
Chief Copy Editor

The College of Wooster men’s basketball team fell 85-72 Saturday afternoon at Timken Gymnasium to visiting Wabash College.

The loss meant that the 25th-ranked Fighting Scots are now 1-2 in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) and 3-3 overall.

Wabash took an early 8-2 lead just two minutes into the game, extending it out to 15-8 at 13:46, before the Scots initiated a comeback. Alex Baptiste ’18, with 10 rebounds by halftime, sparked a 10-2 Scots’ run that ended with a spectacular lay-in by Keonn Scott ’21 to give Wooster its first lead of the game at 18-17. Josh Lotko ’21 completed a big and-one to bring Wooster within a point, while earlier also coming in with a huge offensive rebound. The rebounding department belonged to the Scots early on, as Lotko marked their ninth while in offense, but it was only the second one cashed in for second-chance points.

A layup by Jack Davidson ’21, the NCAC Men’s Basketball Player of the Week, with 9:01 left in the opening half gave Wabash the lead again, but a Sherack Malokwu ’20 jumper in the paint tied the game at 22. On the Scots’ next possession, Simon Texidor ’19 threw a three-pointer to push Wooster to 25-24.

The two teams settled for a 36-36 tie at the half.

Asked how the Scots felt at that point, Baptiste said, “At that stage we knew that they would start the second half with a lot of confidence and that we had to be more determined, play tough defense and outwork them as a whole. However, Wabash played very well and you have to give them credit.”

In the match, Baptiste finished with 14 rebounds, five of which came on offense. The senior added three blocks to complement Danyon Hempy ’20’s four.

Wooster regained the lead early in the second half with a three-pointer by Blake Blair ’19. A minute later, Spencer Williams ’18 stole and made the layup in traffic on the other end of the floor to eke the Scots forward 44-41. Following that, a Hempy jumper edged the Scots’ lead to 50-45 with 14:56 left.

However, just over three minutes later, Wabash’s Connor Rotterman ’21 threw a three-pointer to tie at 54, and his three-pointer at the tail end of the decisive 8-0 run pushed Wabash ahead 59-54 with 10:07 remaining, a lead never relinquished by the “Little Giants.”

For Wabash (2-2, 1-0 NCAC) this was only their fourth win at Wooster in their entire school history, and first at Timken since 2011. Back then, they had a 69-68 overtime win.

Baptiste, who had never lost to Wabash before, said, “This year Wabash is a team full of young talents. They brought their A-game Saturday and shot the ball very well.”

The Wabash Athletics website (sports.wabash.edu) reported Head Coach Kyle Brummet saying, “This is a great win for our program. Obviously we have to keep winning, but none of our players or staff had ever won at Wooster prior to today. Wooster is the standard in the conference. Our young guys went in with no fear.”

Commenting on the uncharacteristic season record this year and the next game against Hiram, Baptiste said, “This is obviously a slow start for us, but the good in this is that we can still bounce back by focusing on winning one game at a time. We are now practicing to improve individually, but most importantly to improve as a team.”

Wooster remained at home to take on Hiram College (2-3, 1-0 NCAC) at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 6, after press time.

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