Clutch Shooting Down the Stretch Lifts Conference Foe Wittenberg Over Wooster

Aki Shurelds

After finding themselves in a 12-point deficit midway through the first period, The College of Wooster women's basketball team clawed back to within two points early in the fourth, but timely three-point shooting and free-throw conversion down the stretch proved decisive for the Wittenberg University Tigers as they held on for a 59-48 victory on Saturday afternoon at Pam Evans Smith Arena in Springfield, Ohio.

Three Fighting Scots (1-15, 0-7 North Coast Athletic Conference) scored in double figures, led by sophomore Anna Gibbs's 12 points – all of which came in the second half – while Wittenberg's (7-10, 3-5 NCAC) Alex Kiess tallied a game-high 22 points on 14 shots. First-year Kylie Orr and junior Aki Shurelds added 11 points each for Wooster.

In a first half dominated by considerable runs, Wittenberg had its way with the Scots at the start, commencing the game on a 16-4 run before closing the opening period with a 16-6 advantage. First-years Orr and Cat Fiorito tallied all six points for the Scots, who flipped the script in the second period as Wooster outscored the Tigers 15-8, including a 10-0 run to open the period.

Criticial to the run was Shurelds, who connected on two 3-pointers to go along with two points each from Orr and fellow classmate Akwia Tilton, who finished with six points. In the second period, Wooster shot 41.7 from the field while forcing seven Tigers' turnovers as Witt finished the period shooting 20 percent.

With another quick start, Wittenberg maintained a 10-point lead at three different points throughout the third period, with the latest occurring at 3:29 mark as the Tigers led, 38-28, but a 7-0 period-closing run from the Scots – fueled by contributions from Orr, Tilton, and Shurelds – cut the deficit to three (38-35) before the start of the fourth quarter.

After an and-one layup and conversion from Wittenberg's Sydney Mayle brought the Tigers' lead back to six (41-35), a 3-pointer from Gibbs and a layup from Shurelds sandwiched a free throw from Mayle to bring the Scots back within two (42-40) with 7:50 left to play.

In response, consecutive 3-pointers from Kiess shifted the momentum back to the home side as Wittenberg gained back a quick eight-point advantage while Wooster struggled to close the gap in the final seven minutes. Down the stretch, and with Wooster resorting to fouling, the Tigers went 8-for-12 from the foul line to close out the victory. In the fourth, Wittenberg went 4-for-11 from the field, including 3-for-5 from beyond the arc.

Fiorito led the Scots with eight boards in 24 minutes off the bench. Wooster's reserves outscored the Tigers' 23-17, but Witt won the rebound advantage handily, pulling down 47 rebounds compared to Wooster's 28.

The Scots are back in action against Kenyon College (12-5, 6-2 NCAC) on Wednesday, Jan. 18 at 6 p.m.