The race at the top of the North Coast men’s basketball standings tightened last week after No. 9 Denison (11-1, 17-2) dropped its first league game of the season on Saturday against Wittenberg (7-5, 13-6) by a narrow 71-70 margin. The Big Red will again be tested this week as they are set to visit Ohio Wesleyan (10-2, 13-6) on Wednesday night at 8:00 p.m., before returning home for a 3:00 p.m. tip-off against Wooster (10-2, 13-6) on Saturday.
ALLEGHENY split a pair of games last week, earning a 90-73 home win over Kenyon, before falling at Hiram by a 69-57 margin. Freshman Jordan Rawls (Pittsburgh, PA/Taylor Allderdice) paced the Gators with 30 points, eight rebounds and five assists against the Lords, while also tallying 17 points and nine boards against the Terriers. In the two games combined, he shot 54 percent (19-of-35) from the field and a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line.
DENISON, ranked ninth in the most recent D3hoops.com Top-25, notched an 89-73 win over Oberlin, before seeing Wittenberg sink a shot in the final seconds to hand the Big Red their first loss of the season by a 71-70 tally. Senior Jett Speelman (Granville, OH/Newark Catholic) led DU with 25 points and six rebounds against the Yeomen, while classmate David Meurer (Granville, OH/Newark Catholic) led all Big Red scorers against Wittenberg with 25 points on 10-of-18 shooting from the field.
DEPAUW saw its winless streak reach four-straight with a 59-48 loss against Wittenberg and a heartbreaking 111-104 double OT setback against Wooster. Senior guard Luke Lattner (Hinsdale, IL/Fenwick) scored 43 points in the loss against Wooster, which equaled the fifth-best single-game scoring performance in school history. He also broke the school records for both free throws made and attempted against the Scots by shooting 21-of-26 at the charity stripe.
HIRAM split its league games last week, falling at Wooster, 103-85, before collecting a 69-57 home win against Allegheny. The Terriers held a commanding 47-35 edge on the boards against the Gators, led by junior center Kelvin Jones (Sheffield Lake, OH/Brookside) pulling down a career-high 22 boards and posting his ninth double-double of the season with 11 points in the win.
KENYON suffered a 90-73 loss against Allegheny, before picking up its first road victory of the season with a 70-45 triumph at Wabash. In the win, KC held the Little Giants to a 24.5 shooting percentage, which was the lowest mark yielded by a Lords squad since archived stats began being kept in the 2000-01 season. Junior guard Bennett Grigull (London, England/Kimball Union Acad.) scored a career-high 21 points in the loss against Allegheny, before leading the Lords with 15 in the 25-point win over Wabash.
OBERLIN fell at No. 9 Denison, 89-73, but returned home and pushed Ohio Wesleyan to the brink before ultimately succumbing by a 67-62 margin. Sophomore Eric Holt (Atherton, CA/Harker School) netted 18 points against the Big Red and added 15 more against the Bishops to extend his double-figure scoring streak to five games.
OHIO WESLEYAN won a pair of tight conference games last week, first topping Wabash, 73-65, on Wednesday, before edging out Oberlin. 67-62, on Saturday. Junior guard Nate Axelrod (Dublin, OH/Coffman) posted nearly identical numbers in the two OWU wins, with 23 points and six assists against Wabash, and 22 points and six helpers against the Yeomen. In the two games combined, he shot 12-of-25 from the field, 5-of-11 from three-point range and 16-of-21 from the free throw line.
WABASH dropped a pair of home games last week against Ohio Wesleyan, 73-65, and Kenyon, 70-45. Freshman guard Colten Garland (Washington, IN/Washington) scored 12 points in both games, while sophomore post Dalton Vachon (Brownsburg, IN/Brownsburg) posted career-highs of seven points and five rebounds against OWU.
WITTENBERG senior guard Shane Edwards (Perrysburg, OH/Perrysburg) sank a running jumper with 10 seconds left and classmate Jaelin Williams (Springfield, OH/Shawnee) blocked a shot with 1.2 seconds remaining to lift the Tigers to a 71-70 win at No. 9 Denison. Wittenberg also posted a 59-48 midweek win over DePauw to elevate into the fourth position in the NCAC standings. Williams, who had 12 points in the win over DPU, scored 16 of his team-high 23 points in the second half to propel Wittenberg in the upset win over DU.
WOOSTER closed out January with a perfect 7-0 record after notching a 103-85 win over Hiram and a thrilling 111-104 double OT victory at DePauw. Junior Spencer Williams (Warrensville Hts., OH/Orange) scored 18 points against the Terriers and in doing so became the 42nd player in program history to eclipse 1,000 career points. He then scored 23 points in the 2OT win over DPU, which included a clutch and-one conversion that put the Scots ahead for good with 42 seconds left in the second OT period. He also shot a perfect 18-of-18 from the free throw line on the week, highlighted by a perfect 12-for-12 effort from the line in the win over Hiram.