As we turn the calendar to December, North Coast men’s basketball teams will begin league play this week with five games scheduled on both Wednesday and Saturday, highlighted by a battle of Top-25 teams on Wednesday night as No. 13 Ohio Wesleyan (0-0, 6-0) will entertain No. 20 Wooster (0-0, 2-1) in Delaware, Ohio, at 7:30 p.m.
ALLEGHENY dropped a pair of non-conference games last week against Carnegie Mellon, 73-61, and PSU-Behrend, 77-64. Junior Evan Zabriski (Jupiter, FL/Jupiter) tallied his second consecutive double-double in the loss against CMU with 18 points and 11 rebounds, before scoring a game-high 23 points in the 13-point loss against PSU-Behrend.
DENISON went 1-1 last week, picking up an 80-79 victory over Case on Tuesday, before going toe-to-toe with Division I Davidson in an 83-70 loss on Saturday. Junior post Jett Speelman (Granville, OH/Newark Catholic) led the Big Red in scoring in both games with 15 points against the Spartans and 20 against the Wildcats. Speelman, who has eclipsed the 20-point scoring mark in three of DU’s first five games, finished the week by shooting 43 percent (12-of-28) from the field, 38 percent (5-of-13) from beyond the arc and a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line.
DEPAUW split a pair of in-state non-conference games last week, topping Earlham, 80-74, before suffering a 76-67 setback against Rose-Hulman. In the win over Earlham, junior Luke Lattner (Hinsdale, IL/Fenwick) broke the program’s single-half scoring record after scoring all 27 of his points in the second half. In addition, sophomore Jack VandeMerkt (Riverside, IL/Brookfield) posted a double-double against the Quakers with career-highs of 24 points and 21 rebounds. The 21 rebounds was the most by a DPU player since David Galle also pulled down 21 against Manchester in 1985.
HIRAM scored a 76-71 victory at Otterbein in its only action last week. Sophomore center Kelvin Jones (Sheffield Lake, OH/Brookside) tallied his second double-double of the season with 14 points and a career-high 15 rebounds, while senior J.J. Woodson (Oakwood Village, OH/Bedford) led the Terriers in scoring with 21 points.
KENYON evened its record at 2-2 after knocking off Muskingum, 88-65, in its home opener on Sunday. The Lords dominated the Muskies on the boards by a 51-38 margin and also scored 50 points in the paint in the 23-point win. Senior guard Tim Connolly (San Francisco, CA/Stuart Hall) was three assists shy of recording a triple-double against the Muskies as he finished the game with 25 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
OBERLIN opened conference play last week with an 80-68 loss against Wittenberg on Tuesday, but the Yeomen rebounded with a commanding 86-55 road win over Earlham on Sunday. Junior guard Jack Poyle (Avon, OH/Avon), who scored 24 points in the win over Earlham, averaged 21.0 points and shot 57 percent (8-of-14) from three-point range over the two games combined.
OHIO WESLEYAN, ranked 13th in the D3hoops.com Top-25 Poll, picked up a pair of key non-conference wins last week against Trine, 70-53, and No. 24 Illinois Wesleyan, 94-85. Sophomore guard Seth Clark (Lewis Center, OH/Olentangy) paced the Bishops against Trine with a team-high 23 points, while junior post Ben Simpson (Lake Bluff, IL/Lake Forest) tallied his fourth double-double of the season against IWU with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Simpson also added a double-double against Trine with 12 points and 14 boards.
WABASH knocked off in-state rival Rose-Hulman, 65-63, in its only action last week. Senior forward Daniel Purvlicis (Noblesville, IN/Noblesville), who hit the game-winner with just 12.1 seconds left, posted a double-double in the win with team-highs of 24 points and 13 rebounds. He also became the 26th player in school history to reach the 1,000-point plateau in the two-point victory.
WITTENBERG opened last week with back-to-back wins over Oberlin, 80-68, and Millikin, 79-64, before dropping a narrow 69-67 decision against Simpson (IA) in the championship game of the Rhodes College Thanksgiving Tournament. Junior wing Jaelin Williams (Springfield, OH/Shawnee) led the Tigers against the Yeomen with 15 points, while classmate Cody Phillippi (Xenia, OH/Xenia) added 16 points and five rebounds in the win over Millikin.
WOOSTER, ranked 20th in the D3hoops.com Top-25 Poll, knocked off Cabrini by a 79-59 margin in its only action last week. This marks the second season in a row that the Fighting Scots have logged an early season win over the Cavaliers after the two squads also met in both the 2011 and 2013 NCAA Tournaments. Freshman guard Mitch Balser (Centerville, OH/Centerville) had a near perfect shooting night in the victory as he scored 14 points after shooting 5-for-5 from the field, 2-for-2 from three-point range and 2-for-3 from the free throw line.