WOOSTER, Ohio – A defensively stifling first period and timely shooting down the stretch held off a second-half comeback effort as The College of Wooster women's basketball team topped Wittenberg University, 58-45, on "Senior Day" to earn a berth into the North Coast Athletic Conference tournament for the first time since the 2013-14 season.
Tied with Allegheny College (3-22, 1-15 NCAC) at the start of today, the Scots evaded a potential league tiebreaker procedure to outright claim the eighth seed, as Allegheny lost to Ohio Wesleyan University earlier in the afternoon. Wooster (3-22, 2-14 NCAC) will face top-seeded DePauw University on Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 6:00 p.m. at Greencastle, Ind. The Tigers are currently the 14th-ranked team in the nation, according to D3hoops.com.
Senior Rachel Collins got the Scots rolling 53 seconds in with a contested layup off a baseline drive, followed by a three-pointer from classmate Danielle Besancon over two minutes later. First-year Akwia Tilton capped off an opening 6-0 Scots' run after hitting the first of two chances at the foul line as the Scots held the Tigers scoreless through the opening 4:24.
Wittenberg's Bobbie Clayton got the Tigers on the board with two consecutive jumpers to trim the deficit to two (6-4), but the Scots answered with another 6-0 run, highlighted by an and-one conversion from sophomore Christina Vukovich with 4:46 left in the period and a three from deep from first-year Kylie Orr just over a minute later.
Speaking of Orr, the first-year tallied a game-high 19 points on 10 shots, including 4-of-8 from downtown, while tallying a three-pointer in each quarter.
Up 14-5 going into the second, Orr kick-started a 9-0 Wooster run, again connecting from deep on the Scots' opening possession. Meanwhile, classmate Cat Fiorito one-upped Orr's effort with a solo four-point play after a successful fastbreak and-one opportunity, and then an additional free throw, which she made, due to a flagrant foul call as the Scots extended their lead to 18 (23-5), the largest of the day.
Fiorito made it a one-two for first-years the Scots' scoring column, finishing with 13 points on eight shots.
In response, Witt posted an 8-0 run, fueled by five points from Alex Kiess along with an and-one layup from Alexis Perry. The Tigers managed to come within five (25-20) before the first half's end, but a period-closing 5-1 skid stretched it back to nine (30-21) at the halfway mark.
A 7-2 run from the Tigers shifted the momentum back to the away side as Sydney Mayles connected from deep to cut the Scots' lead to four at the 7:35 mark. Finding themselves back up by seven, Orr pulled up from long range, easing the tensions with her third trey of the day and boosting Wooster's advantage back to double-digits (39-29).
The third period marked the only one in which Wittenberg outscored Wooster (11-9).
Fourteen ticks into the fourth period and up six points, Orr again went off from deep for her fourth and final three-pointer of the day to build the league back to nine.
Seven points would be the closest the Tigers would get in the fourth, as the Scots went 10-for-12 down the stretch from the foul line to preserve the win.
Of note, the win marks the first time the Wooster has won its regular-season finale since the 2009-10 season.