“Sweet 16” Bound: Wooster Rallies Late to Force OT, Then Wins 91-83 Over Endicott in NCAA Second-Round Thriller

Milt Davis
Milt Davis
Reece Dupler
Reece Dupler

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The College of Wooster dug itself out of an 11-point hole with about 5:00 left in regulation, piecing together an electrifying rally to force overtime, then steadily took control of the extra session as the Fighting Scots completed their comeback, 91-83 over Endicott College, in Saturday night's NCAA Div. III Championship second-round meeting, played at Catholic University's DuFour Center.

Wooster (23-7) reaches the NCAA's sectional semifinals, or Round of 16, for the 10th time in 18 years and first since 2013.

The season appeared to be winding to an end, as Endicott (19-11) had maintained a 5-to-12-point lead for 10-plus minutes of the second half, seemingly having an answer for every mini-run by the Scots.

Coming out of a timeout at the 4:58 mark down 70-59, Milt Davis helped spark the comeback as he connected on a baseline jumper and a driving lay-up, with a couple of defensive stops in between. After the Gulls came up empty again, Spencer Williams nailed a 3-pointer and suddenly Wooster was within four (70-66) with 2:37 still remaining.

The offenses were held scoreless on the ensuing three possessions, then Dan Fanelly made a short left-handed hook shot to make it a one-possession game at 70-68 with 1:27 on the clock.

Kamahl Walker answered by working his way to the free throw line 18 seconds later and sinking both to give his Endicott squad a 72-68 lead.

That was followed by a miss, and things were looking bleak again for the Scots as they were down four and forced to foul at the 42.8 mark. The Gulls missed the front end of a one-and-one, though, and Wooster took advantage of the opportunity, with Davis hitting an open 3-pointer from just right of the top of the key to make it a one-point margin (72-71) at the 30.8 mark.

Following a timeout, Mitch Balser stole the ball in the backcourt, with Reece Dupler picking it up and laying it in to give the Scots their first lead (73-72) since it was 7-6.

Next, Endicott's Walker drew a foul on the other end of the court, stepping to the free throw line with 7.4 seconds to play. He missed the first, but made the second to tie it at 73, and Wooster's attempt at a game-winning 3-pointer was off the mark.

Three Max Motroni free throws gave the Gulls a 76-75 edge early in overtime, but then Walker fouled out and the Scots took control with six unanswered points – a Fanelly reverse lay-up, a Williams runner from the right side of the basket, and Fannelly muscling his way in for another lay-in – to make it 81-76.

After Motroni got to the foul line again and made 1-of-2 with 1:06 remaining, Fanelly worked free for another lay-up, lifting Wooster's lead to 83-77 as the clock dipped under a minute.

Endicott misfired on a 3-pointer and then became the team forced to foul, as the Scots went on to make 8-of-9 free throws to seal the outcome.

Both teams had trouble finding any offensive rhythm throughout much of the first half. Wooster made just 3-of-19 field goals at the outset, but used a late burst to pull within 33-27 at the break.

The Gulls' offense was efficient early in the second in opening up a 47-36 cushion.

Despite the Scots' poor early shooting, they finished at nearly 50 percent for the game (.493; 35-for-71), compared to Endicott's rate of .441 (26-for-59). Wooster had the rebounding advantage at 41-30.

Fanelly, Williams, Dupler, and Balser accounted for more than 80 percent of the Scots' scoring, as they tallied 20, 19, 18, and 16 points, respectively. Dupler contributed eight rebounds and Balser five assists.

Motroni paced the Gulls with 23 points and Walker added 19.

In the sectional semifinals, Wooster will play the State University of New York at Oswego (22-8) at a location and time to be announced on Sunday.