Junior Spencer Williams fought through a foul to finish a jumper with :42 remaining in double overtime, and sank the ensuing free throw on the and-one play giving The College of Wooster men's basketball team the separation it needed to cap a hard-fought 111-104 win over DePauw University on Saturday afternoon at Greencastle, Ind.
DePauw (9-10, 5-7 North Coast Athletic Conference) had two looks at a game-winner at the end of regulation, and an even better one at the end of overtime that rimmed out.
Wooster (13-6, 10-2 NCAC), which extended its win streak to seven, needed to rally back to tie the game in regulation and the first overtime. Senior Dan Fanelly came through both times, first knifing through the paint to tie the game at 87 with :13 remaining in regulation, and then, the forward knocked down a pair of free throws with :29 remaining in overtime that knotted up the contest at 99.
Of note, Wooster's win enabled the Fighting Scots the ability to pick up a game on first-place Denison University (17-2, 11-1 NCAC), who was upended by Wittenberg University (13-6, 7-5 NCAC) 71-70 in Granville, Ohio. Wooster remains tied for second-place with Ohio Wesleyan University (13-6, 7-5 NCAC) with six regular-season games remaining.
Wooster overcame a slow start, and trailed 18-8 before the Scots started to find their rhythm. Williams sparked a 12-3 run that pulled Wooster within one at 21-20 with 7:21 left in the first half. The Scots' defensive efforts keyed the run as first-year Danyon Hempy recorded a block while senior Milt Davis and sophomore Eric Bulic added steals – all of which led to quick transition points for Wooster at the offensive end. In fact, sophomore Reece Dupler scored the final four points of the run with both buckets coming within four seconds of Wooster obtaining possession after DePauw turnovers.
Later, Wooster turned in a 7-1 clip with a 3-pointer from Davis, a jumper by Williams, and a lay-in by Hempy off of a fast-break feed from sophomore Mitch Balser to take its first lead since the early stages of the game at 34-32 with 3:04 left in the first half. The Scots led as late as 38-37 after Hempy cleaned up a put-back on the offensive end after a Williams steal, before the Tigers capped the half with a 5-0 swing.
In the second half, both teams featured a heavy dosage of their big men to start with Fanelly accounting for the Scots' first eight points of the frame, including two and-ones. On the flip side Jack VandeMerkt scored the Tigers first 10 points of the stanza, giving DePauw a 52-46 lead in the process with 14:41 remaining in the half.
Then, Wooster overcame the six-point second-half deficit with Balser's put-back on the offensive end knotting the game at 55 with 11:24 remaining in regulation. From there, Wooster continued to counter with points each time DePauw scored as the Tigers didn't open up a lead larger than four until Luke Lattner's two free throws gave DePauw a 74-69 lead with 6:16 left in regulation.
Later, Wooster overcame a seven-point (80-73) hole when an and-one by Williams and a Dupler layup pulled the Scots within two (80-78) with 2:01 left in the second half. On the Scots' next possession, Fanelly connected on an and-one to tie the contest at 81.
In overtime, Fanelly slammed home a two-handed dunk to give Wooster the 89-88 lead with 4:00 remaining, the Scots' first lead since the 1:31 mark of the first half. Then, DePauw's James Clarke connected on an and-one, forcing the Scots to play catch-up again. Wooster responded by tying the score five times in the first overtime period.
Wooster never trailed in the second extra period as Williams cut to the basket for a layup four seconds after the period's tip. DePauw tied the score at 101 and 104 before Wooster closed the game on a 7-0 run.
Dupler and Fanelly led the way with 25 points each for Wooster. For Dupler, the scoring output marked a career-high, while Fanelly scored 23 of his points after halftime. Williams added 23 points for Wooster – two shy of his career high – while Hempy (14) and Davis (13) rounded out the Scots in double figures scoring.
Other notable statistical performances featured Bulic's 10 rebounds and Balser's five assists.
From the team aspect, Wooster's 82.9 percent (34-for-41) free throw percentage played a huge factor in the game. The 34 made free throws are tied for the sixth-most in program history and the most in a game since Wooster knocked down 35 against the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in the second round of the 2010 NCAA Div. III Championships.
Lattner paced DePauw with a season-high 43 points while VandeMerkt turned in a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Notable, the game marked Wooster's first double-overtime win since the Scots topped Denison 102-92 on Feb. 11, 2009. Individually, Fanelly was 13-for-15 in the game while Williams chipped in a 6-for-6 mark.
Next, Wooster travels to Oberlin College (1-17, 0-11 NCAC) for a 7:30 p.m. tilt on Wednesday, Feb. 1.