Following NCAC men’s basketball competition last week there is now a clear delineation between the top four teams in the league standings, with nationally-ranked Ohio Wesleyan (9-1, 16-1) continuing to lead the pack with a 9-1 mark against conference foes. Several of the top-four teams will be tested in the week ahead, highlighted by OWU traveling to second-place Wooster (8-2, 12-5) on Wednesday and third-place Wittenberg (7-3, 12-5) hosting Denison (4-6, 9-8) on Saturday.
ALLEGHENY lost a pair of games against top-four NCAC teams last week, falling to Wooster, 89-60, and Wittenberg, 67-52. Senior Brandon Smith (Gahanna, OH/Lincoln) paced the Gators against Wooster with 16 points, while classmate Evan Zabriski (Jupiter, FL/Jupiter) scored a game-high 22 points against the Tigers.
DENISON went on a 23-4 run over the final seven minutes of play to post a 77-61 win at Hiram on Wednesday. The Big Red then dropped a narrow 82-76 decision against first-place Ohio Wesleyan on Saturday. Senior Jett Speelman (Granville, OH/Newark Catholic), who leads the NCAC in FT% and ranks 15th in the nation at 89.7%, scored 26 points in the win over the Terriers after shooting 7-of-12 from the field, 3-of-6 from beyond the arc and 9-of-10 from the free throw line. In addition, senior Darius White (Galloway, OH/East) is now just three made three-pointers shy of becoming DU’s career leader in the category.
DEPAUW led by as many as 11 against Wabash, but the Little Giants rallied in the second half for the 80-75 victory over the Tigers. DPU also had a one-point halftime advantage over Wooster on Saturday, but the Fighting Scots regained the lead in the second half and pulled away for the 73-56 victory. Sophomore Cris Burrough (Carmel, IN/Guerin Catholic) reached double-figures in scoring for just the second time this year against Wabash with a career-high 22 points.
HIRAM dropped a 77-61 decision against Denison, but the Terriers snapped their three-game losing skid with a 92-74 victory over Kenyon. Four players scored in double figures in the win over the Lords, led by junior Jeremiah Thomas (Cleveland, OH/John Hay) pouring in a season-best 16 points on a perfect 6-of-6 shooting performance from the field.
KENYON saw its three-game winning streak snapped last week with a pair of losses against Wittenberg, 78-70, and Hiram, 92-74. Senior Tim Connolly (San Francisco, CA/Stuart Hall) had 16 points, five rebounds and five assists against the Tigers, while freshman Matt Shifrin (Wilton, CT/Wilton) scored a career-high 17 points against the Terriers.
OBERLIN turned in a 2-1 week on the road, sandwiching a pair of wins over Illinois Tech, 81-61, and Wabash, 71-54, around a midweek setback against No. 7 Ohio Wesleyan, 81-69. At 10-7 overall, the Yeomen have now won double-digit games in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the 1984-85 and 1985-86 seasons. Senior center Randy Ollie (Evanston, IL/Evanston) led the Yeomen on the week with 49 points (16.3 ppg) and 20 rebounds (6.6 rpg), highlighted by a 19-point, nine-rebound performance in the win over Wabash. In the three games combined, Ollie shot 77 percent (20-of-26) from the field and 64 percent (9-of-14) from the free throw line.
OHIO WESLEYAN, ranked seventh in the most recent D3hoops.com Top-25, maintained its hold at the top of the league standings with two wins over Oberlin, 81-69, and Denison, 82-76. Junior post Ben Simpson (Lake Bluff, IL/Lake Forest) notched his eighth double-double of the season against Oberlin with 15 points and 10 rebounds, before leading the Bishops in the win over Denison with 19 points and seven boards.
WABASH rallied from an 11-point, second-half deficit to defeat arch-rival DePauw, 80-75, but the Little Giants couldn’t retain the momentum as they suffered a 71-54 loss against Oberlin. Freshman guard Johnny Jager (Bloomington, IN/South) scored 19 of his career-high 31 points in the final 14 minutes to lift Wabash to the five-point victory over DPU. He converted an and-one situation with 1:27 left to give the Giants a 76-73 advantage, before sealing the victory with a pair of free throws in the final seconds of the game.
WITTENBERG jumped into sole possession of third-place in the NCAC standings and extended its current winning streak to four-straight with a pair of wins over Kenyon, 78-70, and Allegheny, 67-52. Senior guard Cody Phillippi (Xenia, OH/Xenia) led the Tigers with 17 points against the Lords after shooting 5-of-11 from the field, 3-of-7 from three-point range and a perfect 4-of-4 from the free throw line, while junior wing Jaelin Williams (Springfield, OH/Shawnee) paced the squad in the win over Allegheny with 14 points.
WOOSTER won a pair of league games to remain in second-place in the NCAC, running past Allegheny, 89-60, and earning the regular season sweep of DePauw, 73-56. Sophomore guard Spencer Williams (Bedford, OH/Orange) paced the Scots’ balanced scoring attack in each game with 18 against Allegheny and 14 against DPU. He shot 5-of-7 from three-point range on the week, while also recording a season-high six assists and a career-high four steals in the win over the Gators.