No. 13 Wooster Prevails at Ohio Wesleyan by Two, as Recent Stretch of Close Finishes at Forefront of Rivalry Again

Eric Bulic
Eric Bulic
Trenton Tipton
Trenton Tipton

Junior Trenton Tipton drifted into the corner and knocked down the go-ahead three-pointer with 38.1 seconds left, and Ohio Wesleyan University's game-winning three-point try bounced off the rim, as the 13th-ranked Fighting Scots hung on for a 76-74 win at Branch Rickey Arena in Delaware, Ohio on Saturday afternoon.

Wooster (18-3, 13-1 North Coast Athletic Conference), now winners of 11 straight, found itself in a six-point hole after a rare stretch of three straight turnovers enabled Ohio Wesleyan (11-10, 6-8 NCAC) to turn a one-point deficit into a 72-66 lead after Gabe Johnson's fast-break lay-in with 3:09 to go.

Senior Eric Bulic and junior Danyon Hempy spearheaded the comeback effort prior to Tipton's go-ahead triple.

Looking to penetrate with under three minutes left, Hempy found a wide-open Bulic, who spotted up for his third three-pointer of the game. After Grant Gossard hit a difficult jumper over Bulic, Hempy took charge and pulled Wooster within 74-72 with 2:13 to go. The Scots' junior was fouled on a jumper and went on to finish the old-fashion three-point play.

Next, Bulic swatted aside Gossard's shot, and was later rewarded with a steal after Gossard looked to move the ball back to the perimeter. Senior Reece Dupler timed the pass perfectly and deflected it toward Bulic.

While Wooster didn't score on the subsequent possession, the Scots more than made up for it on the next trip down the court. Hempy found Bulic in the paint, while Tipton drifted toward the corner to spot up for three, and subsequently went on to knock down his third jumper from range in the game.

Up two at the end, Wooster's defense kept Ohio Wesleyan away from the basket, forcing Ethan Stanislawski to hoist his game-winning try from well beyond the three-point arc.

Wooster led by as many as eight three times in the second half, and Tipton was a big reason why. The junior's three-pointer at the 16:49 mark staked Wooster to a 48-40 lead, and the Scots were up 57-49 with 12:42 to go. However, Ohio Wesleyan stayed within striking distance with five timely three-pointers prior to taking its first lead of the half on Stanislawski's jumper with 3:59 left that made it 67-66.

In the first half, it was Ohio Wesleyan making the noise from beyond the arc early, as four triples in the first eight minutes enabled the Bishops to open up an 18-10 lead at the 12:17 mark.

Wooster worked its way back into the fold with a 9-0 run, starting with sophomore Dontae Williams getting a well-earned offensive rebound, and later cashing in on the second-chance opportunity. Hempy was right in the thick of things during the run with two buckets, including a pull-up jumper coming down the court after a steal.

It was Tipton who ultimately gave Wooster its first lead of the game at the 9:40 mark, as the junior had the magic touch after Bulic's shovel pass inside.

Later, Wooster was up seven when Bulic's three-pointer made it a 32-25 game at the 6:12 mark, while Hempy's three-pointer before the buzzer enabled the Scots to head into halftime up 41-37.

Hempy upped his run of 20-point games to six with a game-high 23. The junior dished out a season-high six assists to pair with four rebounds and two steals.

Three other Scots scored at least 10 points on the afternoon, including Williams (16) and Tipton (13). The duo combined for 11 rebounds, while Bulic added six.

Wooster shot 51.7 percent (30-for-58) for the game and finished with a 30-29 edge in rebounding.

Gossard led four Bishops in double figures with 17 points, and the junior finished a rebound shy of a double-double

Ohio Wesleyan shot 49.1 percent (28-for-57) for the game, and that included an 11-for-24 showing from three-point land.

Noteworthy, five of the last six Wooster-Ohio Wesleyan games have been decided on by four or fewer points with the lone outlier being the Scots' 68-55 win back on Dec. 29.

Next, Wooster's at Denison University (6-14, 3-11 NCAC) for an 8 p.m. tilt on Wednesday, Feb. 6.