Wooster's Second-Half Run Keys 77-62 Win Over No. 12 Denison

Mitch Balser
Eric Bulic

GRANVILLE, Ohio – The College of Wooster men's basketball team didn't allow a point over a span of 6:18 in the second half, and offensively the Fighting Scots saw their lead balloon by 20 over that stretch, as Wooster topped No. 12 Denison University 77-62 on Saturday afternoon at Livingston Gymnasium.

With the win Wooster (15-6, 12-2 North Coast Athletic Conference) moves a game ahead of Denison University (17-4, 11-3 NCAC) in the conference standings, but remains tied with Ohio Wesleyan University (12-2 NCAC) for first-place in the league after the Battling Bishops' 92-71 win over Kenyon College.

Wooster's win marked the Scots' ninth in a row, the longest winning streak since a 12-game one between Dec. 6, 2014 and Jan. 24, 2015. Additionally, the victory marked the Scots' 10th-straight league win, the longest such stretch in the regular-season since the 2012-13 team won 11 NCAC games in a row.

On Wednesday, Wooster didn't make a 3-pointer in the first half during its win over Oberlin College. That changed quickly on Saturday as senior Dan Fanelly and junior Spencer Williams knocked down long-range jumpers on the Scots' first two possessions of the afternoon, and Wooster was at three by the 14:45 mark of the opening stanza. Notable, Fanelly's 3-pointer moved the senior past 1,500 career points, making the senior the 23rd 1,500-point scorer in NCAC history, and the seventh from Wooster.

Wooster made its first big run of the afternoon after Denison's Matthew Bauer cut the Scots' lead to two at 20-18 with 9:44 remaining in the opening half. Sophomore Reece Dupler split a pair of Big Red defenders on a possession immediately after a block by junior Alex Baptiste to cap a 10-2 stretch, and make it a 30-20 contest. Earlier in the run, the Scots' defense came up big with a steal by senior Milt Davis, who set up first-year Danyon Hempy in transition on the break.

Later, Williams knocked down a 3-pointer with 4:24 to go in the stanza to push the advantage to 13 points (37-24), marking Wooster's largest lead of the half.

Prior to the decisive run, Denison pulled within two (42-40) with a 7-2 clip to open the second half with the final five points coming from Bauer.

Wooster's game-changing 20-0 stretch featured scoring contributions from five different Scots, including sophomore Mitch Balser, who knocked down a pair of 3-pointers. Fanelly also factored heavily in the run with five points, including a dunk on a fast-break assist by Williams.

Williams extended the lead back past 20 with a 3-pointer with 5:09 remaining, and then the speedy junior put Wooster up by a game-high 27 points (77-50) on an inside lay-in with 3:55 to go.

Fanelly led the way for Wooster with a game-high 24 points, while shooting 10-for-16 from the field, including 3-for-6 from beyond the arc. Williams backed that up with 15 in the scoring column while adding six rebounds and three assists. Dupler (12) and Balser (10) rounded out the Scots in double figures scoring.

Other notable statistical performances included sophomore Eric Bulic with 10 rebounds – his third double-digit day on the boards over the last five games – and two steals, while also drawing the primary defensive assignment of guarding Jett Speelman. Also of note, Balser dished out a game-high five assists.

Speaking of Speelman, the Denison the senior did lead Denison with 17 points, but was held to 5-for-13 shooting while turning the ball over five times. Bauer turned in a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Next, Wooster returns home to take on Allegheny College (7-14, 4-10 NCAC) at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 8.