Ohio Wesleyan (10-2, 15-4) has leaped over 10th-ranked Wooster
(9-3, 15-4) for the lead at the top of the North Coast men’s
basketball standings after the Bishops topped the Fighting Scots,
92-85, in Delaware last Wednesday. Wabash (7-5, 12-7) and Allegheny
(7-5, 10-9) round out the top four in the league standings, while
DePauw (6-6, 13-6) sits alone in fifth as the only other team with
a record of .500 or better against conference foes. League teams
return to the court this week with three games on Wednesday, two on
Friday and five more on Saturday.
ALLEGHENY climbed back over .500 in league play last week after posting a pair of wins over Hiram, 69-59, and Kenyon, 59-56. After trailing Hiram by two, 30-28, at half, the Gators outscored the Terriers by a 41-29 margin in the second-half to secure the 10-point victory on Wednesday, while the victory over Kenyon on Saturday snapped the Gators’ six-game losing streak against the Lords. Senior Josh Valentic (Washington, PA/Trinity) led the Gators in both wins, totalling 22 points against Hiram and 19 against Kenyon.
DENISON suffered a heartbreaking 69-68 setback against DePauw on Wednesday, but the Big Red rebounded with a 75-72 victory over Wittenberg on Saturday. Junior post Bret Woolard (Newark, OH/Newark), who scored the Big Red’s final eight points in the win over Wittenberg, finished the game with a career-high 28 points after shooting 9-of-14 from the field, 7-of-8 from the free throw line and a perfect 3-of-3 from three-point range.
DEPAUW won back-to-back one-point games last week, topping Denison, 69-68, on Wednesday, before prevailing against Oberlin, 51-50, on Saturday. The Tigers were without their leading scorer and rebounder, senior Tommy Fernitz (Northbrook, IL/Glenbrook North) for the two games, but a pair of underclassmen filled his void as freshman Luke Lattner (Hinsdale, IL/Fenwick) and sophomore Clint Cunningham (Columbus, IN/North) combined for 45 points in the win over Denison. Cunningham, who had scored 13 total points on the season prior to the win over DU, finished the game with a career-high 17 points, while Lattner topped the 20-point plateau for the fifth time this season with a game-high 28 points.
HIRAM held second-half lead in both of its games last week, but the Terriers came up short in both contests, falling against Allegheny, 69-59, on Wednesday, before losing against Ohio Wesleyan by a 70-64 margin on Saturday. Freshman Kelvin Jones (Sheffield Lake, OH/Brookside) erupted for a career-high 19 points against Allegheny, before finishing one rebound shy of a double-double against OWU with 12 points and nine boards.
KENYON dropped a pair of tightly contested league games last week against Oberlin, 62-50, and Allegheny, 59-56. Cold shooting doomed the Lords on the week as they converted just 3-of-29 attempts from three-point range in the two games combined. Senior forward John Bray (Glenshaw, PA/Vincentian Acad.) was one of just two KC players to average double figure scoring totals on the week as he scored 13 against Oberlin and 10 against Allegheny.
OBERLIN junior center Randy Ollie (Evanston, IL/Evanston) matched a career-high effort with 22 points to lead the Yeomen in a 62-50 win over Kenyon on Wednesday. The Yeomen then hit the road on Saturday and led DePauw for nearly 35 minutes of action, but the Tigers surged back late to notch a narrow 51-50 victory.
OHIO WESLEYAN, which appears in the “Others Receiving Votes” portion of the D3hoops.com Top 25, completed its first regular-season sweep of Wooster since the 1987-88 season with a 92-85 triumph over the Scots on Wednesday, before gaining sole possession of first-place in the NCAC on Saturday with a 70-64 triumph over Hiram. In the win over Wooster, junior post Claude Gray (Avon, OH/Avon) led the Bishops with 29 points, while freshman guard Nate Axelrod (Dublin, OH/Coffman) tied the program’s single-game record for free throw shooting percentage after he was a perfect 13-of-13 from the line. Axelrod closed out the win against Wooster with 19 points and a team-high 10 assists, before adding 14 points and six more helpers in the win against Hiram.
WABASH split a pair of home games last week, falling to Wittenberg, 67-51, on Wednesday, before rallying for a 68-65 victory over 10th-ranked Wooster on Saturday. Junior forward Daniel Purvlicis (Noblesville, IN/Noblesville), who hit a pair of key free throws with 3.1 seconds left to seal the win over Wooster, posted his third double-double of the season in the victory with 19 points and 13 rebounds. In the two games combined, Purvlicis totalled 33 points (16.5 ppg) and 17 rebounds (8.5 rpg), while shooting 55 percent (12-of-22) from the field and 43 percent (9-of-21) at the free throw line.
WITTENBERG topped Wabash, 67-51, on the road on Wednesday, before dropping a 75-72 at Denison on Saturday. Sophomore wing Jaelin Williams (Springfield, OH/Shawnee) led the Tigers in the win over the Little Giants with 20 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals. He also added 13 points against Denison to finish the week with 33 points after combining to shoot 11-of-19 from the field, 4-of-6 from three-point range and a perfect 7-of-7 from the charity stripe.
WOOSTER, ranked 10th in the most recent D3hoops.com Top 25, slipped to second-place in the league standings following a pair of road losses last week against Ohio Wesleyan, 92-85, and Wabash, 68-65. After scoring 20 points in the loss against OWU, senior guard Xavier Brown (Bowling Green, OH/Bowling Green) became just the eighth player in program history to eclipse 1,500 career points.