Senior Spencer Williams scored 18 of his game-high 23 points in the second half, and The College of Wooster men's basketball team clamped down defensively with host Kenyon College's buzzer-beating 3-pointer marking the Lords' lone points over the final 5:20, which enabled the Fighting Scots to pull away during a 75-55 win on Wednesday evening at Tomsich Arena in Gambier, Ohio.
Kenyon (5-11, 2-7 North Coast Athletic Conference) was within reach for most of the contest, but a 10-2 Wooster (12-4, 6-3 NCAC) run that answered a Phillip Crampton 3-pointer with 14:08 remaining in the second half gave the Scots a bit of breathing room.
Crampton's 3-pointer pulled the Lords within two at 40-38, but 20 ticks later, Williams had the answer with a nice feed to fellow senior Alex Baptiste, who worked hard inside for the lay-in. The play was reminiscent to one prior to Crampton trimming Wooster's lead down to one possession. On that offensive highlight, Williams drew a double team and spun the ball down low to Baptiste for the easy lay-in.
Similar to the Scots' first-half run, Williams took charge in the scoring column after the assist to Baptiste, this time with Wooster's leading scorer knocking down a pair of free throws, and eventually capping the run with a bucket that made it 50-40 with 11:50 to go.
During Wooster's first-half run, Williams found Baptiste, who slipped past his man for a wide-open look to ignite an 11-0 stretch that resulted in a 20-12 Scots' lead with 11:45 left before halftime. Next, Williams took matters into his own hands with a deep 3-pointer, and he followed it up with a big drive down the lane on Wooster's next possession. Then, junior Blake Blair canned a pair of field goals that capped the run.
In fact, Wooster was 5-for-5 from the floor during the run, and the Scots' perfection from the field extended beyond both ends of the scoring spree as the Scots made eight straight field goals at one point in the opening half with six Scots accounting for the buckets.
Kenyon's Matt Shifrin canned back-to-back 3-pointers to start the second half, and in fact, the Lords led briefly at 31-30 after a Crampton jumper with 18:45 to go before Williams went 2-for-2 at the charity stripe to put Wooster back on top for good with 18:15 remaining.
Despite Wooster's 10-2 second-half run, Kenyon kept nipping at the Scots' lead and was within eight after a Shifrin bucket with 5:20 left. That nearly marked the Lords' final points of the night, but Kiki Boyle drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Junior Reece Dupler took over offensively during Wooster's closing burst, as the guard scored the first six points during an eventual 15-0 run that erased any chance of a Lords' comeback. Dupler's three straight buckets included a nifty off-angle, heavily-contested lay-in, and after that, four different Scots chipped in points, including classmate Trey Miller, whose 3-pointer capped the stretch.
Williams, who went 7-for-13 from the floor and 6-for-6 at the free throw line, dished out five assists to back up his 23 points. Dupler added 14 points, while Baptiste contributed 12 in the scoring column to pair with nine rebounds.
Shifrin led Kenyon with 16 points, and like Williams finished with five assists.
Wooster held Kenyon to 34.8 percent (23-for-66) shooting on the night, including 27.8 percent in the first half. The Lords 55 points mark the fewest allowed by the Scots on the season.
Next, Wooster starts the second round of NCAC action at Wabash College (8-8, 4-5 NCAC) in a game now scheduled to start at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 20.
In the conference picture, Wittenberg University (16-0, 9-0 NCAC) – up to fifth in this week's D3hoops.com top 25 poll – holds a three-game lead over Hiram College (10-6, 6-3 NCAC), Ohio Wesleyan University (11-5, 6-3 NCAC) and Wooster.