WOOSTER, Ohio – Down 61-47 with 5:45 remaining, two free throws from junior Anna Gibbs kick-started what would become a game-altering 21-4 College of Wooster run, as the Fighting Scots stormed back to claim a 68-65 victory over Ohio Wesleyan University on Saturday afternoon as part of "Senior & Alumni Day" at Timken Gymnasium.
The victory marks the first time the Scots have swept the season series against two or more North Coast Athletic Conference opponents (Ohio Wesleyan & Allegheny) since the 2009-10 season. Additionally, wins have come in pairs for Wooster this season, marked by three separate instances of back-to-back victories.
|Sophomore Akwia Tilton and first-year Sarah Marion leap in celebration after completing a 14-point comeback over Ohio Wesleyan University on Saturday afternoon.|
On the day, Gibbs led all Scots with 15 points, followed by senior Aki Shurelds' 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting. As a team, Wooster (6-17, 4-10 NCAC) shot a season-high 45.6 percent, highlighted by 36 points in the paint and 23 points off turnovers. On the defensive end, the Bishops had to deal rejection all day as the Scots logged a season-high nine blocks.
The first period showcased a back-and-forth affair as neither team gained more than a three-point lead after the opening two minutes. All five starters tallied a field goal, led by five points from both Gibbs and first-year Sarah Marion, the latter of whom finished with a season-high four blocks.
Down 17-16 to start the second, Wooster's Akwia Tilton went coast-to-coast and finished in the lane to give the Scots' their first lead of the second period.
Moments later, the Battling Bishops (1-22, 0-14 NCAC) churned out an 8-0 run to go up 31-24 with nearly five minutes remaining in the half. Junior Kyle Croxton answered a minute later with her first and only three-pointer of the game to inch back within two possessions. From there, a 7-2 Bishops' run brought the visitors up 38-29 before sophomore Kylie Orr connected from deep at the buzzer as Wooster entered the halftime break down six.
Lockdown defense and consistent shooting from beyond the arc kept Wooster afloat throughout most of the second half.
In the third, the Scots shot 7-for-17 and limited Ohio Wesleyan to 0-for-4 from three-point range. A 12-5 run to open the half brought the Scots ahead for the first time since early in the second period, as first-year Maria Janasko capped the streak with a lay-up in the lane off the assist from Gibbs.
The Bishops charged back, however, mounting a 10-2 run of their own to close the third period. Six of Ohio Wesleyan's 10 points came at the line as Wooster trailed 53-46 entering the fourth.
Despite an 18-percent shooting clip from Ohio Wesleyan in the fourth, the Bishops shot out to their largest lead of the game midway through the fourth period thanks to an 8-1 run.
The Scots missed their first three shots before going 6-for-9 over the final 5:56. After two free throws from Gibbs at the 5:45 mark, Marion rejected Ohio Wesleyan's Claire Sterling before gaining possession on a Bishops' turnover. On the ensuing possessions, three-pointers from Shurelds and Gibbs sandwiched two made free throws from Ohio Wesleyan's Erin Delaney early on during a 13-2 run which brought the Scots back to within one (63-62) with 2:06 remaining.
A pair of free throws put Ohio Wesleyan back up by three before Shurelds connected in the lane on the next possession. Down 65-64 with 1:40 left, sophomore Cat Fiorito, who proved pivotal in the final moments, put in a back-cut lay-up to lift the Scots ahead for the first time since the 5:07 mark in the third period.
After an exchange of missed jumpers, the Bishops had what could have been the game-winning possession before a loose pass from Delaney was poked free and grabbed by Fiorito. The sophomore guard sprinted to the offensive end and found an open Marion, who after being fouled sunk one of two free throws to seal a three-point lead and the game.
Notably, over the final 5:56 of the fourth, the Scots forced six turnovers and held Ohio Wesleyan to 0-for-7 shooting.
Sterling (13 pts, 11 reb) and Nicole Popovich (20 pts, 13 reb) each garnered double-doubles for the Bishops while Marion pulled down a team-high six boards to go with her nine points.
Up next, Wooster hosts Kenyon College (18-5, 11-3 NCAC) on Wednesday, Feb. 14 at 6 p.m.