Scots Back in NCAC Tournament Championship Game After Beating OWU 89-80
The College of Wooster hit a series of 3-pointers midway through the second half to build a 19-point lead (70-51), then withstood a late rally by Ohio Wesleyan University to win Friday evening's first semifinal of the North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament at Springfield, Ohio, by a score of 89-80.
Wooster (23-4), the tourney's No. 2 seed, reaches the championship game for the fourth-straight time and 15th out of the last 16 years. The Fighting Scots will face fifth-seeded Denison University (14-13), which knocked off host and top seed Wittenberg University 66-58.
Having maintained its seven-point halftime lead (41-34) through four minutes of the second, Wooster proceeded to make 6-of-9 3-pointers in about an eight-minute stretch, turning a 48-41 margin into 70-51. Four different Scots hit from outside during the run, including two apiece by Matt Fegan and Justin Hallowell.
Ohio Wesleyan (20-7) did not go down quietly. Still trailing 77-63 with 4:02 to go, the Battling Bishops rattled off nine unanswered to make it a five-point game (77-72) entering the final two minutes. Wooster didn't allow the third seed to get any closer, though, as it made 10-of-12 free throws to seal the outcome.
The Scots trailed 10-8 early before putting together a 15-2 spurt to take control. Ohio Wesleyan steadily chipped at the double-digit lead, bringing it to 41-34 at the break.
The difference in the game came at the 3-point arc and the free throw line. Wooster connected on 9-of-21 from long range (.429), compared to the Battling Bishops' 4-of-16 3-point effort (.250). Both spent quite a bit of time at the charity stripe, with the Scots making 22-of-26 (.846) and Ohio Wesleyan 18-of-33 (.545).
Wooster offered a balanced offensive attack, paced by Fegan, who nailed 4-of-7 3-pointers as part of a 17-point outing. Four others reached double figures, Hallowell with 13, and Xavier Brown, Josh Claytor, and Doug Thorpe each with an even dozen.
Hallowell also contributed team highs of nine rebounds and three blocks, and Fegan dished four assists.
The Bishops' Tim Brady, the NCAC's leading scorer (22.6 ppg), tossed in 18 points, but it took him 19 field-goals attempts (6-of-19) to get there, while Marshall Morris posted a double-double of 16 points and 10 boards.
Denison, winners of eight of its last 10, and Wooster, which has prevailed in 11 of 12 games since mid-January, will tip-off at 7 p.m., Saturday in Springfield, Ohio.