GREENCASTLE, Ind. – The 24th-ranked College of Wooster men's basketball team made a series of spectacular plays in the final three minutes, and the Fighting Scots hung on for a 70-68 victory, as DePauw University's game-winner bounced off the back of the rim on Saturday afternoon at Neal Fieldhouse.
Senior Danyon Hempy donned one of Wooster's (11-2, 5-1 North Coast Athletic Conference) hero capes down the stretch. First, the psychology major knocked down a pull-up three-pointer, which tied the game at 62 with 3:11 remaining. Next, Hempy stole the ball from DePauw's (6-7, 3-3 NCAC) Nolan Ginther. That led to a quick runout, during which sophomore Brandon Styers beat his man down the floor, collected a perfect pass from Hempy, and finished the fast break with a go-ahead bucket. Later, Hempy had the magic touch on yet another three-ball, this time getting the shot to go down despite double clutching while airborne. That bucket upped Wooster's lead to 69-65 with 34.0 seconds remaining.
Styers heavily impacted the outcome in a positive way down the stretch as well. After his go-ahead layup, the biology major secured a big defensive rebound while the game clock was still north of two minutes. On the other end of the floor, Styers eventually sprung free with a fine backdoor cut, and senior Trenton Tipton was dead on with his entry pass, as Wooster upped its lead to 66-62 with 1:50 remaining.
DePauw's Aaron Shank twice pulled his team within one in the final minute. He could've done it a third time, and possibly have tied the game at 69 with 10.8 seconds left, but the Tigers' junior was off the mark on the front end of a one-and-one.
The Tigers' Ken Decker had a good look at a buzzer-beating three-pointer from about 25 feet out, but the game-winning try was just off the mark.
Wooster, which shot a red-hot 72 percent (18-of-25) in the opening half, had just a two-point lead to show for it at the break, and Ginther was a big reason why. DePauw's standout junior went 5-of-6 from the floor and 4-of-5 at the charity stripe en route to a first-half high 14 points. Wooster really shored up its interior defense down the stretch, as the 6-5 forward didn't score in the second half until he hit the back end of a pair of free throws with 1:37 remaining.
At one stretch, Wooster hit 11-of-13 shots from the floor in the first half. Sophomore JG Gillard claimed responsibility for three of those, as the forward was locked in down low, and even showcased his range with a three-pointer. Sophomore Drew Bishop's trifecta capped the red-hot stretch, and that gave Wooster the lead for the first time since the opening minutes at 26-25.
Wooster led by as many as seven in the first half, while the Scots overcame a seven-point second-half deficit.
Hempy scored a game-high 25 points, which marked his eighth 20-point outing of the year. Styers tallied a career-high 11 points, and he was a perfect 5-of-5 from the floor. Junior Peyton Bennington, who made his first start at Wooster, corralled a co-game-leading seven rebounds.
Wooster shot 56.9 percent (29-of-51) for the game and outrebounded DePauw 29-27.
Ginther's 15 points led three Tigers in double figures, while Shank's seven rebounds matched Bennington for the game high.
DePauw shot 47.4 percent (27-of-57), was 8-of-24 from range, and only turned the ball over seven times.
Next, Wooster's back home to take on Oberlin College (8-5, 2-4 NCAC) at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, January 15.