WOOSTER, Ohio – Junior Eric Bulic bumped The College of Wooster's lead out to two possessions at 68-64 with :20.6 to go on a free throw, and sophomore Danyon Hempy blocked a shot on Oberlin College's ensuing possession as the Fighting Scots warded off the Yeomen 70-64 in a back-and-forth thriller in the season- and Al Van Wie/Wooster Rotary Classic opener on Wednesday evening at Timken Gymnasium.
|Wooster junior Blake Blair delivered a memorable debut with eight points and four rebounds. Among the eight points were a pair of 3-pointers, the second of which tied the game at 57 with 6:17 remaining.|
Wooster (1-0, 1-0 North Coast Athletic Conference) junior Blake Blair provided a big lift in his collegiate debut with a pair of 3-pointers, the second of which tied the game at 57 with 6:17 to go, and both of which erased a six-point deficit the Scots faced at the 7:34 mark when the Yeomen's (0-1, 0-1 NCAC) Joshua Friedkin knocked down the last of his six 3-pointers.
Friedkin answered back with 5:08 to go with a free throw to make it 58-57 Oberlin, but a free throw by Bulic tied the game at 58 prior to a bucket in the paint by junior Reece Dupler giving the Scots a 60-58 lead with 3:21 to go. Duper's field goal marked Wooster's first lead since the 14:22 mark of the half.
Oberlin's Jordan Armstrong kept the Yeomen primed for the upset with a key offensive rebound on the ensuing possession, and that eventually led to a Christian Fioretti 3-pointer, which gave Oberlin its final lead of the night at 61-60, although an and-one by Andre Campbell tied the game at 64 with 1:40 to go.
Ten ticks later, Dupler put Wooster ahead for good on a free throw, and Wooster's defense followed with a fine defensive stop that culminated with a Bulic blocked shot as the shot clock expired. On the next trip up the floor, Dupler connected in the paint to bump the lead out to three, and that's where the score stood until Bulic's free throw.
Earlier in the game, Wooster's team speed staked Wooster to a six-point lead at 13-7 at the 13:44 mark of the opening half. Bulic capped the early success with a dunk as part of four early fast-break points, with both buckets coming via steals - first by Dupler that led to a fast-break conversion by Williams, and the second by Bulic.
Next, Wooster's bench strung together an impressive 7-0 run, which featured five points by junior Simon Texidor and a fine lay-in by sophomore Sherack Malokwu, with the three field goals bumping Wooster's lead out to 12 at 22-10 with 10:46 to go in the opening half.
Down 12 again with just under two minutes to go in the first half, Oberlin started to chip away with a Friedkin 3-pointer and a tip-in at the end of the first half by Campbell cutting the Yeomen's deficit to 32-25 at the half.
In fact, Friedkin drained a pair of early buckets in the second half, the second of which gave Oberlin its first lead since the 16:30 mark of the first half.
The Yeomen stayed in front until Blair's 3-pointers, but the Scots kept the deficit at seven or fewer thanks to a pair of 3-pointers by Hempy, a jumper by Blake, and a put-back lay-in by Hempy that trimmed Oberlin's edge to three at 54-51 with 7:52 to go.
Dupler led four Scots in double figures with 16 points while Williams chipped in 15. Bulic doubled down in the scoring and rebounding department with 10 each for a double-double, and four of the rebounds came on the offensive end of the floor. Other stats to note include six rebounds and three steals by Hempy and two blocks and a pair of steals by Bulic.
Oberlin's Fridkin led all scorers with 23 points while Campbell added 17 to pair with a team-high seven rebounds.
Wooster closes out the Al Van Wie/Wooster Rotary Classic with a 6 p.m. home tilt against Medaille College (0-1) on Saturday. The Mavericks dropped their season opener to Nazareth College 100-97 on Wednesday night.