Junior Trenton Tipton provided a big lift off the bench and finished a rebound shy of his first career double-double, while a top-to-bottom strong defensive effort led to a cooled off Polar Bear shooting percentage during the 21st-ranked College of Wooster men's basketball team's 61-52 win over Ohio Northern University on Sunday afternoon at Ada, Ohio.
Wooster (4-0) held Ohio Northern to 27.9 percent (19-for-68) from the field, and kept one of NCAA Div. III's premier big men – Ryan Bruns – in check offensively all afternoon. While Bruns gave the Scots plenty of fits on the defensive end of the floor behind eight defensive rebounds and three blocked shots, the senior scored eight points – over 18 below his season average – on 3-for-12 shooting, and he didn't have a field goal in the second half.
Ohio Northern (2-2) took charge on Austin Allemeier's old-fashion three-point play with 9:50 left in the opening half. That play gave the Polar Bears a 19-16 lead, and it marked the ninth lead change in the game. In fact, the plus-one opportunities marked a point of success for the Polar Bears in the opening half, as Ohio Northern converted three, including one by Daniel Unruh that opened up a six-point lead at 24-18 with 7:45 left in the opening stanza.
After falling behind by eight, senior Reece Dupler led Wooster's dominant closing stretch of the half. The guard scored six of the Scots' final nine points of the stanza, including a layup with :03.7 left off the drive that tied the game at 30. Prior to the game-tying lay-in, Dupler found a wide-open Danyon Hempy, and the junior made it a one-possession game with a three-pointer with 36 ticks left in the opening half.
Wooster's late first-half surge carried over to the onset of the second half, as the Scots raced out of the locker room with a 6-0 run. Dupler continued to lead the way with a floater high off the glass before feeding the ball to a cutting Trey Miller for a wide-open lay-in in transition. Senior Eric Bulic capped the run with a corner jumper from just inside the three-point arc.
Ohio Northern responded with a 13-2 run to take a 43-38 lead at the 9:40 mark of the second period before Wooster's bench rallied the Scots back. Tipton's second three-pointer of the game sparked the go-ahead sequence, while sophomore Keonn Scott had a nice finish at the rim to tie the game at 43. Junior Blake Blair's stick-back gave the Scots the lead for good with 8:19 remaining.
Wooster's defense started to clamp down in the midst of what turned into an eventual 7-0 run with Dupler swatting aside a shot, and Bulic slid over to help defend a Ty Staten drive to the hoop and was rewarded with a block of his own. The Scots added two more blocked shots in the closing seconds of the game.
While Wooster had numerous key rebounds and steals down the stretch defensively, it was ultimately Hempy who put Ohio Northern away on the scoreboard. The Scots' junior scored 13 of Wooster's 16 points over the final 5:06, including four after finishing a fast-break layup while being intentionally fouled, and then sinking the pair of ensuing free throws.
Hempy scored a game-high 22 points, while Dupler (12) and Tipton (10) joined the junior in double figures. Tipton's nine rebounds marked the Scots' high for the afternoon, while Miller secured eight from his guard position to pair with four assists.
For the game, Wooster shot 39.3 percent (24-for-61) from the floor, scored 34 points in the paint, and 17 on the fast break.
Allemeier led Ohio Northern in scoring with 10 points, while Daniel Donner chipped in with eight rebounds.
The Polar Bears went 7-for-39 from the floor in the second half, but were 10-for-14 at the charity stripe for the game.
Next, Wooster opens North Coast Athletic Conference play at Kenyon College (0-4) on Wednesday, Nov. 28. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m.