Joey Harris

Contributing Writer


Masked up and socially distanced on the sidelines, in an unusually empty Timken Gymnasium and with a new head coach, many things have changed for The College of Wooster men’s basketball team this season. Still, some things have also stayed the same, one of them being that the Scots continued their rivalry with DePauw University by playing a recent double header. This seemingly familiar event was also not without its own small twist — the games were played back-to-back. Two days of high-level college basketball against the 13th-ranked team in Division III can be physically taxing, but Brandon Styers ’22 felt his team had prepared well to handle the task. “Our mindset is that we have to sell out both those games and then rest after,” he said.

The Scots dropped their first two official games of the season against the DePauw Tigers this past weekend in a series of close matchups between the black and gold from Ohio and the black and gold from Indiana. Tayler McNeal ’23 racked up the most points for Wooster throughout the two games, scoring upwards of 20 in each. Styers and Eric Mudd ’24 made notable contributions off the backboard, each leading the team in rebounds in separate games. Styers had seven rebounds on Saturday and Mudd collected five on Sunday.

Wooster came out firing on all cylinders on Saturday in their first game against DePauw. By the end of the first half, the Scots had built up a healthy lead of 51-41 with notable contributions from McNeal and Keonn Scott ’21 who netted 26 points that game.

“It seemed like in the first half of the first game, Keonn and Tayler did not miss,” said Najee Hardaway ’22. “Anything they shot went in the hoop.” 

Throughout the second half, Wooster went up by as much as 18 points, but as the clock ticked on, the Tigers began to chip away at that lead. With just over six minutes left in the game, a three point shot from DePauw pushed the Tigers up by one over the Scots, 83-82. The teams then traded points back and forth for the next few minutes, sharing the lead with one another. Two successful free throws by DePauw in the last few seconds of the game were enough to seal the deal for the Tigers, putting them up 100-95 over the Scots. With eight seconds left, a final push by Scott allowed Styers to score once more off an offensive rebound, but it was not enough to overcome the five point lead.

Styers said the Tigers’ comeback can largely be attributed to the team’s strength in collecting offensive rebounds which, in turn, gave them a lot of second and third opportunities to score. Overall, DePauw registered 41 rebounds over Wooster’s 28, helping them get 26 second chance points. While disappointed with the loss, Styers was optimistic about how the Scots played.“I think we played at a really high offensive efficiency for being together for so little time,” he said. 

Wooster suffered a similar fate during their second outing of the weekend. They led the Tigers 50-48 after a close first half. Around eight minutes into the second half, DePauw pulled away and did not look back. The final score was 85-75, leaving the Scots 0-2 on the year. Hardaway, who had 14 points in the second game, said a decline in offensive efficiency contributed to a defensive slowdown. “When you miss the shots you don’t feel as energized and you’re slow on a rotation on defense, so you’re slow getting back and they capitalized on that,” he explained. Despite the early losses, Hardaway feels optimistic about the group’s abilities heading into their upcoming game against Wabash.

“I believe we have a team full of hoopers,” he said.

Written by

Chloe Burdette

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