Matt Olszewski

Senior Sports Writer

The College of Wooster men’s basketball team emerged victorious on Saturday, Jan. 28, in their most important game of the season so far, against their rival, the Wittenberg University Tigers 98- 86. Wittenberg came into the game with a record of 14-0 and 7-0 in the NCAC, while also being ranked the number two team in the country. With the win, the Scots improve to 13-2 overall and 7-1 in the NCAC, as they sit atop first place along with the Tigers.

Brandon Styers ’22 described the mood going into the game against the Scots’ biggest rival. “The attitude going into this game was revenge and wanting to prove that we are a great team. This game was a great opportunity to go up against one of the top teams in the country and really prove we belong on that list of top teams,” he remarked. He also described how the team prepared for the game during their practices leading up to the game, saying, “[We were] establishing how we [were] going to guard their offense and having everyone on the same page. We practiced that consistently in order to prepare for them. Off the court, we re-watched the game last year in the conference tournament when we lost a close game, which definitely got us mentally prepared for the game.”

Wooster hardly missed from the field, shooting 63.3 percent (38-of60) for the whole game. That mark is the highest shooting percentage the Scots have had since they beat Earlham College 109-86 in 2009 when they shot 42-of-62 for 67.7 percent overall.

There were some very competitive matchups on the floor, with the main one being Wooster’s Dontae Williams ’20 against Wittenberg Connor Seipel ’20. Seipel came into the game as the national leader in field-goal percentage. Williams, meanwhile, was fourth nationally in field-goal percentage. He started four-of-five overall and the Scots gained a 24-12 advantage with 11 minutes left in the first half. In addition, during the first eight minutes of the first half, the Scots were 10-of-13 overall, while the Tigers were four-of-12.

Wooster had key contributions from every starter and several bench players. Trenton Tipton ’20 and Styers drained consecutive threes to give Wooster its double digit advantage — the lead which the Scots ended up maintaining throughout the rest of the game. Wooster went into halftime with a comfortable 52-33 lead. Najee Hardaway ’22 and Hamilton Johnson ’22 also stepped up for the Scots with some key baskets, two of which were three-pointers made by Johnson. Styers said that Coach Moore implored that his players stay focused and continue to play great defense to weather the storm, while still being aggressive on offense.

In the second half, Danyon Hempy ’20 scored 15 of his total 27 points in the game and at one point he and Keonn Scott ’21 paired together on a two-on-one sequence that allowed Hempy to finish a fast-break. Soon after, Wooster’s lead over the Tigers grew to 27 points when they led 80- 53 with 10:23 remaining. Hempy led all players with 27 points on 11-of-15 shooting and four assists. Williams was another important contributor for the Scots, as he had 21 points and four rebounds. Notably, the Scots shot over 50 percent from three, as they shot 12-of-22.

Seipel ’20, Wittenberg’s most talented “big man,” was held to only 10 points and five rebounds in the game, despite having averaged 16.8 points and 10.9 rebounds throughout the season previously. Wittenberg as a team also only shot nine-of-26 from three, a much lower percentage than what the Scots shot.

Styers lastly explained how the Scots will be able to remain successful the rest of the season, “the key to success will be staying motivated and continuing to work hard on our defense in practice. There is still a long way to go and we need to step up our game in all aspects if we want to be successful the rest of the season.”

Wooster now jumps ahead in the all-time rivalry 61-59, as they won the 120th overall meeting between both teams this past weekend 98-86.

The men’s basketball team plays Denison College in Granville, Ohio on Wednesday, Jan. 22 at 8:00 p.m.