The College of Wooster men's basketball team was firing on all cylinders on Wednesday night as the Fighting Scots shot over 50 percent from the field for the first time in the last 12 games, recorded the fewest turnovers since the 2015-16 season, and had plenty of defensive highlights during an 89-59 win over host Oberlin College at Philips Gymnasium in Oberlin, Ohio.
Wooster's (16-4, 10-3 North Coast Athletic Conference) five turnovers perhaps stood out the most as that's the fewest in a game since the Scots had that many against Kenyon College on Feb. 3, 2016. In fact, up until the final :40 of the game, Wooster's turnover count was at three, and should that have held it would've marked the fewest giveaways since the Scots had three against Dickinson College in the second round of the 2014 NCAA Div. III Championships.
Wooster, which scored a season-high 41 first-half points on the night, knocked down eight of its first 11 shots, and six different Scots contributed in the scoring column during that stretch, including junior Eric Bulic and senior Spencer Williams, who each knocked down 3-pointers. Then, a steal by junior Reece Dupler led to a fast-break lay-in by classmate Blake Blair that capped the 8-for-11 stretch with Wooster leading 18-6 with 15:43 to go in the opening half.
Next, the Scots defense stole the show with a block by Danyon Hempy coming in the mist of six straight Wooster points scored by the sophomore, the final two of which came on a fine up-and-under move that made it a 12-point game at 24-12 at the 6:45 mark.
Just before Hempy's last bucket, Williams' hustle on the defensive end of the floor resulted in back-to-back steals, and later on, Hempy poked one away during an 11-0 spurt by the Scots. During the late first-half run, Dupler took charge with the first four points and an assist, as the Scots knocked down all five shots from the floor to take a 39-19 lead with under 3:00 to play before halftime.
Oberlin (9-11, 3-10 NCAC), which started the game 0-for-9 from beyond the arc, heated up late when leading scorer Eli Silverman-Lloyd knocked down a 3-pointer for his first bucket of the game, and that led to a 10-2 Yeomen run to close the half with Oberlin pulling within 11 at 41-29.
Wooster pushed its lead out to 21 with a 13-2 spurt to start the second half as the Scots knocked down their first five shots, two of which came via the hot hand of Dupler, who drained a pair of his signature off-hand floaters. During the run, Williams benefitted from a friendly roll on the rim, and he capped the run with an old-fashioned three-point play to make it a 52-31 contest with 17:31 remaining.
Sticking with Williams, the senior guard knocked down a pair of free throws at the 13:16 mark to cap a 9-0 run and put Wooster up 63-38. Hempy started the run with a dish down low to a wide-open Alex Baptiste, and the senior was active on the defensive end during the scoring spree with a pair of blocks.
Later an 8-0 spurt led to a game-high 32-point lead after a pair of free throws from Trenton Tipton with 7:33 remaining. Earlier in this run, senior Ari Stern sparked a quick transition possession with a defensive rebound that was followed by a Blair 3-pointer :07 later. Then, Stern's active presence on the defensive end parlayed into a steal, and Hempy capped the fast-break with a two-handed dunk.
Dupler led the way on the night with a game-high 21 points and he was nearly automatic from the field with a 9-for-12 performance. Hempy backed that up with 18 points on 6-for-12 shooting.
Blair, Bulic, and Hempy all recorded five rebounds in the game, while Hempy dished out a team-high three assists.
Joshua Friedkin scored 13 points, but the Scots' defenders held him to 4-for-13 from the floor and 2-for-7 from beyond the arc.
Oberlin coughed the ball up 19 times on the night and Wooster cashed in on the miscues to the tune of 26 points off of turnovers.
Next, Wooster returns home to host Denison University (11-9, 7-6 NCAC) at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 3. Wooster is now in sole possession of second-place in the NCAC standings after Denison's 83-62 win over Ohio Wesleyan University (14-6, 9-4 NCAC) on Wednesday.