No. 25 Wooster Downs Oberlin 78-53 Behind Strong Second Half

Eric Bulic
Eric Bulic
Khaylen Mahdi
Khaylen Mahdi

Senior Reece Dupler and junior Danyon Hempy combined for another monster night – this time via a combined 40 points on 16-for-23 shooting – and the 25th-ranked College of Wooster men's basketball team pulled away from host Oberlin College in the second half of a 78-53 victory on Wednesday evening at Philips Gymnasium in Oberlin, Ohio.

Wooster's (11-3, 6-1 North Coast Athletic Conference) efforts on the defensive end of the floor proved crucial at the onset of the game, as neither team was able to get much going offensively for the first 4:30. In that span, Hempy swatted aside two shots to pair with a steal, while senior Eric Bulic added a block of his own. Wooster held Oberlin to 1-for-7 from the floor to start before Joshua Friedkin's three-pointer gave the Yeomen (7-6, 3-3 NCAC) a brief lead at the 15:23 mark.

Sophomore Dontae Williams quickly put Wooster back on top with a tough finish at the rim in traffic, and junior Trenton Tipton lifted the Scots offensively with a pair of three-pointers. Hempy's baseline drive on the first trifecta sent the Yeomen scrambling, and that enabled freshman Khaylen Mahdi to quickly swing the ball to Tipton on the perimeter.

Oberlin's Eli Silverman-Lloyd pulled the Yeomen within two at the 7:35 mark with a jumper, but Hempy quickly gave the Scots an eight-point cushion with a personal 6-0 stretch. The junior's second bucket of the night came via a tip-in, and not long after, the guard's full array of offensive abilities was on full display with a driving layup off the glass prior to a breakaway steal-dunk combination.

The Yeomen kept hanging around and were within four after Christian Fioretti's jumper with just north of two minutes left in the opening stanza. Hempy had the Yeomen chasing after him in transition, and that led to Bulic lurking uncontested in the paint for a layup. Bulic's big half culminated with a buzzer-beating three-pointer that came shortly after his seventh rebound. That bumped the Scots' lead out to a half-high 10 points at 36-26.

Wooster played a much more consistent half on the offensive end in particular after halftime. Dupler was a big reason why, as the senior knocked down a pair of three-pointers from the top of the key, the second of which saw Wooster's lead balloon to 46-30 with 17:25 remaining.

The Scots ultimately put the game away with a 17-2 run, during which Silverman-Lloyd's bucket with 10:47 remaining marked the Yeomen's lone points during a 6:23 span. Offensively, five different Scots logged tallies on the scoring column, while the Black and Gold combined to shoot 7-for-8 from the floor en route to opening up a 69-42 lead with 8:24 left on the clock. Defensive highlights during the run included a steal by sophomore Keonn Scott and an offensive foul drawn by Mahdi.

Wooster went on to book-end the game with a strong defensive stretch in the waning minutes. Scott's steal with 5:03 to go was followed by a block by freshman Hamilton Johnson and classmate JG Gillard chipped in on the fine defensive effort with a late steal.

Dupler scored a game-high 21 points, 14 of which came in the second half, while Hempy was right behind with 19 to pair with five rebounds, three assists, two steals, and two blocked shots. Bulic rounded out the Scots in double figures with 11 points. The Scots' forward finished a rebound shy of a double-double and dished out five assists for the third time over his career.

Wooster shot exactly 50 percent (28-for-56) for the game, marking the Scots' fourth consecutive outing with at least a 50-percent shooting clip. Wooster outrebounded Oberlin 37-26 and had four players with at least three assists.

Fioretti led the Yeomen with 14 points on 6-for-13 shooting. Friedkin added 11 points, but the Scots' pressure – led in large part by Mahdi – led to Oberlin's point guard tallying seven turnovers for the game.

Oberlin shot 38.5 percent (20-for-52) for the game and turned the ball over 18 times.

Next, Wooster heads to No. 13 Wittenberg University (11-3, 5-2 NCAC) for a 7 p.m. tilt on Saturday, Jan. 12. The game will mark the 117th all-time meeting between the two winningest programs in NCAA Div. III men's basketball history.