Senior Milt Davis slipped inside past the defense down low and finished a shovel feed from classmate Dan Fanelly with :11 remaining, and The College of Wooster men's basketball team survived a game-winning jumper by Oberlin College that hit the rim to win 69-68 on Wednesday evening at Oberlin, Ohio.
Wooster's (14-6) win coupled with Ohio Wesleyan University's 82-77 win over 12th-ranked Denison University sets up a three-way tie for first-place in the North Coast Athletic Conference with the Battling Bishops, Big Red, and Scots all sitting at 11-2 with five games remaining in the regular season. In fact, Wooster makes the trip down to Denison on Saturday for a 3 p.m. tilt in Granville, Ohio.
Wooster, now winners of eight straight games, gained some hard-earned separation from Oberlin (1-19, 0-13 NCAC) about halfway through the opening half, but that would not hold up as the Yeomen remained within striking distance for the first 21:27 of the game before the lead changed hands 14 times over the final 18:33.
Midway through the first half, Wooster went on an 8-0 run after Oberlin cut the Scots' lead to one at 13-12 to make it a 21-12 contest with 7:27 left in the stanza. Sophomore Reece Dupler book-ended the run with his signature turnaround bank jumpers, and junior Alex Baptiste capped a transition possession with a layup after a steal at the other end of the floor.
Then, a 5-0 stretch by Oberlin trimmed Wooster's advantage to four before the Scots pushed their lead out to eight with paint lay-ins from Baptiste and Dupler that made it 25-17 with 4:24 left in the stanza. Oberlin later pulled within one with an Andre Campbell layup capping a 9-3 Yeomen run to close the half.
Likewise to Saturday's second half at DePauw University, Fanelly took over offensively, and scored Wooster's first eight points of the stanza, including a layup in traffic with 17:01 remaining that moved the senior into the top 10 on the program's all-time scoring list.
Wooster, who didn't make a first-half 3-pointer, made three in the second half, and each of them came up big. Fanelly connected on the first one at the 17:36 mark to put Wooster back on top at 35-33 after Oberlin took its second lead of the contest. Sophomore Mitch Balser knocked down the other two, the second of which capped an 8-2 run giving Wooster a five-point (58-53) edge with 6:50 remaining.
Just over a minute later, layups on back-to-back possessions by Fanelly and Hempy opened up a 64-58 Wooster lead with 4:56 to go, marking the largest lead of the half for either team.
Then, Oberlin's Joshua Friedkin drained a 3-pointer to pull the Yeomen within one at 64-63, and then put Oberlin up 65-64 with 3:21 to go on the next possession with a layup.
Dupler eventually pulled Wooster back ahead at 67-66 with 2:25 remaining, but Campbell beat Wooster inside for a put-back on an offensive rebound to give the Yeomen a one-point edge that stood until Davis' game-winner.
Fanelly led Wooster on the night with a game-high 21 points, marking the senior's eighth 20-point game of the season. Fanelly paired his points with a co-team-high six rebounds and a co-game-high four assists.
Williams chipped in 12 points, and extended his streak of consecutive free throws made to 30 before the streak was broken with 12:44 to go in the contest.
Other notable statistical performances included a combined 11 rebounds by Dupler (6) and Balser (5) and Wooster's 47 points in the paint.
Jack Poyle led four Yeomen in double figures with 18 points.