Season-Best Defensive Effort Guides Wooster to 59-53 Win Over Ohio Wesleyan

Anna Gibbs
Cat Fiorito

The College of Wooster women's basketball team held Ohio Wesleyan University to an opponent season-low 53 points as the Fighting Scots opened the second leg of North Coast Athletic Conference play with a 59-53 victory on Saturday afternoon at Branch Rickey Arena in Delaware, Ohio.

Notably, the victory marks Wooster's first win at the historic Ohio Wesleyan site since the 1988-89 NCAC Tournament Semifinal.

Down 13-9 after the first period, the Fighting Scots (3-11, 1-4 NCAC), led by a season-high 21 points from junior Anna Gibbs, rode a 32-21 mid-game scoring advantage to claim their first conference win of the season.

In the first, neither team gained more than a two-point lead until Ohio Wesleyan's Claire Sterling connected on a buzzer-beating jumper to grant the Battling Bishops (1-13, 0-5 NCAC) a four-point lead after 10 minutes of play.

Wooster's offense fired on all cylinders in the second frame, highlighted by a 53.3 percent shooting percentage, as seven players recorded a field goal in the period.

After Ohio Wesleyan's Sterling and Wooster's Aubri McKoy exchanged jumpers to open the second stanza, Ohio Wesleyan's Tia Karras connected on the back end of two free throws to take a 16-11 lead with 8:01 remaining.

From there, the Scots mounted an 8-0 run, sparked by a Cat Fiorito jumper at the 7:11 mark before sophomore Erica Roberts connected on a strong and-one from the low block off the jump-pass assist from sophomore Akwia Tilton.

With the deficit cut to one with five minutes left in the half, Gibbs came up with one of her five rebounds before taking it coast-to-coast and finishing with a euro-step for an up-and-under layup.

At the 2:29 mark, first-year Sarah Rapacz, who tied her season-high with nine rebounds on Saturday, corralled an offensive rebound to push the Scots' lead to three (21-18).

In the final 90 seconds, three points from Tilton and an offensive put-back from first-year Jena Copley made it a 28-24 Wooster lead at the half.

The Scots opened the third period on a 6-0 run, with Tilton, Gibbs, and Roberts all scoring from the paint to give Wooster a 34-24 lead nearly two minutes in.

Junior Kyle Croxton stymied a 7-2 Bishops' run with her lone three-pointer of the game before Gibbs lifted the Scots' lead back to 10 (41-31) with a layup off the assist from Croxton. Ohio Wesleyan's Karras finished the third period with her lone field goal of the game in addition to a made free throw from Erin Delaney, as the Bishops managed to chip the deficit back to four (41-37) heading into the fourth.

A 5-2 period-opening run brought the Bishops back to within one possession with 8:20 left to play before Fiorito connected on her second jumper of the game to push the Scots back ahead by five (44-39).

A minute of scoreless action proceeded in the Scots' favor before Ohio Wesleyan's Kayla Richard broke the drought with a mid-range jumper. Again, another minute-long drought followed, this time answered with an old-fashioned three-point play from Gibbs at the 5:45 mark.

After Karras connected on the second of two free throws, Rapacz stepped up and connected on the Scots' second-straight and-one to stretch the lead back to eight (50-42) with 5:12 left to play.

A 7-2 Ohio Wesleyan run, with Sterling netting all seven points for the Bishops, brought the home side within three (52-49) with 3:12 remaining. Notably, Sterling scored Ohio Wesleyan's final 11 points, but five points from Gibbs and two free throws from first-year Sarah Marion in the final :29 sealed the win for Wooster.

On the day, Wooster limited the Bishops to 31 percent from the floor and just over 15 percent (4-for-26) from beyond the arc. The Scots out-rebounded Ohio Wesleyan 44-35, noted by a career-high nine from Fiorito.

Up next, Wooster travels to Allegheny College (4-9, 1-4 NCAC) on Wednesday, Jan. 10 for a 4 p.m. tipoff.