Final Made Shot Eludes Scots as No. 3 Whitman Wins Exciting Non-Conference Tilt 80-79

Alex Baptiste

Two go-ahead 3-pointers by The College of Wooster men's basketball team didn't fall in the final seconds as third-ranked Whitman College held on for an 80-79 win in an exciting non-conference contest on Sunday afternoon at the Sherwood Athletic Center in Walla Walla, Wash.

Back-to-back 3-pointers by Jase Harrison sparked a 14-6 run for Whitman (7-0) midway through the first half, and the Blues utilized that stretch to open up a 25-15 lead with 4:37 remaining before Wooster (5-4) made its first big  move of the game.

Sophomore Eric Bulic capped a 12-2 Fighting Scots' run with a 3-pointer, tying the score at 27 with 2:16 remaining in the opening half. Wooster's bench played a big factor in the run, scoring eight of the 12 points, including a 3-pointer by junior Ari Stern that made it a one-possession game at 25-22 with 3:16 left in the period.

Next, junior Spencer Williams came away with a steal with under a minute left in the stanza, and sank both free throws on the other end of the floor to swing Wooster in front 29-27, marking the Scots' first lead since the 15:10 mark of the period.

The lead didn't hold as Tim Howell knocked down a pair of trifectas to give the Blues a 33-29 halftime lead, as Whitman earned an extra possession causing a turnover with just over 20 seconds left in the frame.

Similar to the first-half, Whitman began to pull away, this time with an 8-0 run to open up a 12-point lead at 46-34 with 16:34 left in the game. However, Wooster again worked its way back into the picture with an 11-1 run highlighted by two buckets and a block by junior Alex Baptiste and five straight points at the end of the scoring spree from sophomore Reece Dupler, trimming the Scots' deficit to 47-45 with 14:41 to go.

A few minutes later, Baptiste was at the center of attention again, with an and-one play and a quick jumper after a Williams steal, giving Wooster its first lead (54-53) of the second half with just over 12 minutes remaining.

From there, the two teams traded the lead seven times down the stretch before a pair of Harrison free throws with 2:47 remaining ultimately gave Whitman the lead for good at 74-73. Senior Dan Fanelly kept Wooster right there with three layups down the stretch, each of which made it a one-point contest.

Baptiste turned in a career day for the Scots, finishing with career-highs in points and rebounds with 17 in both statistical categories. Fanelly matched Baptsite with 17 in the scoring column, while finishing two rebounds shy of a double-double. Dupler (11) and Davis (10) each finished in double figures in scoring.

Notable, sophomore Mitch Balser dished out a team-high five assists in his first action since Nov. 23.

As a team, Wooster continued to dominate on the glass, and finished with 20 more rebounds in the contest, giving the Scots a plus-41 margin in that department over their past two games.

Harrison led Whitman with a game-high 27 points, 15 of which came via 3-pointers. Howell also surpassed the 20-point mark with 24 points on the day.

Next, Wooster travels to Lewis & Clark College (2-7) for a 7 p.m. Eastern tip on Wednesday, Dec. 21.