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Men’s and women’s basketball both win dramatically

Ashley Ferguson
Sports Editor

Just three points separated both the winning men’s and women’s basketball teams from conference rival Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU) on Saturday, Feb. 10 at Timken Gymnasium.

Early in the afternoon, the women overcame a 14-point deficit in the final quarter to best OWU 68-65. Then, the men topped the Battling Bishops just seven minutes in, hanging on until a failed three-point jump shot by their Seth Clark ensured Wooster’s 75-72 victory. The men and women also took to the court to celebrate “Senior & Alumni Day,” an event attracting parents, alumni and peers to the gym to celebrate fourth-year Wooster student-athletes.

The women’s team triumphed in the record books as their win over OWU marked their second domination of a North Coast Athletic Conference team this season, having already beat Ohio Wesleyan in Delaware, Ohio as well as overcoming Allegheny at home and in Meadville, Penn.

Throughout the game, they kept the scoring tight, never trailing OWU by more than six points. But two successful free throws by the Bishops’ Nicole Popovich in the last four seconds put them just out of reach at 53-46 to wrap up the third quarter.

With just 5:45 left on the clock, Wooster was down 61-47, until Anna Gibbs ’19 kickstarted Wooster’s final surge with two free throws. This began a team effort that saw successful three-point jump shots from Aki Shurelds ’18, Gibbs and Kylie Orr ’20.

Cat Fiorito ’20 made a layup at 1:08, gaining the advantage over the Bishops, and two free throws by Sarah Marion ’21 secured the Scots’ record fourth-quarter victory. “In the past, we probably would have crumbled under those odds,” said Katie Mandych ’18. “I’m so proud of how we have grown as a team.”

“Everyone was able to come together and contribute to the win,” said Shurelds. “Even though we were down, we did not give up and we were able to make history.”

Wooster marked an enviable 46.7 three-point percentage in the game, a highlight for the season and a solid lead over Ohio Wesleyan’s respectable 30.8 percent.

The men’s game carved out a single space for Wooster as the No. 2 seed in the conference, thanks to their win over OWU and Hiram College’s simultaneous clobbering of the previously undefeated Wittenberg University.

Spencer Williams ’18 made two free throws to take over the Bishops at 13:24 in the first half, and the Scots never looked back. Aided by layups from Eric Bulic ’19 and Reece Dupler ’19, Wooster steadily cruised over OWU. The team garnered several jump shots to distance themselves from the Bishops. After a rebound by Trenton Tipton ’20, Blake Blair ’19 shot three to land the Scots ahead 24-14 with less than 10 minutes in the first half. Then Tipton made his own three-pointer in response to a three-point jump shot by OWU’s Nate Axelrod right around six minutes to go in the first half.

Danyon Hempy ’20 brought Wooster back up to a 10-point lead twice, shooting a three-pointer in the first half to put the Scots at 29-19 and dunking mid-way through the second half to put them at 52-42. Consistent scoring by Hempy, Dupler and Williams rounded out the day.

Extending their possession throughout the game, Wooster claimed 16 second-chance points while OWU had none.

Williams took note of the team’s response to OWU’s revival late in the game.

“I am proud of the way our team handled adversity and stayed poised even when the opposing team made a run and almost took the lead,” said Williams. “We showed a lot of toughness and maturity in that game.”

Meanwhile, the celebrating crowd bolstered the energy in the gym throughout “Senior & Alumni Day.” Ari Stern ’18 cited family, classmates, teammates, coaches and devoted fans as sources of support that have made for “an unbelievable four years.”

“It was a bittersweet night, realizing that my career is coming to a close, but it was great to get the win and celebrate with my family,” said Stern.

Derek Schwarz ’18 echoed those sentiments, describing the experience as “surreal.”

“If it were not for my teammates who constantly supported me every step of the way, I would not be the man I am today,” said Schwarz. “To get to play with these guys every day and have them applaud me for my accomplishments is something I will cherish forever.”

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