WOOSTER, Ohio – The latest installment of one of the most intense rivalries in small college athletics went the way of the College of Wooster Fighting Scots as they held off a late challenge to secure a 75-71 victory over Wittenberg.
Wooster executed with near perfection down the stretch, successfully converting its last seven possessions into points covering the final four minutes of the game. The Scots needed every one of those points as Wittenberg rallied with 19 points over the final 4:16 but still fell short against Wooster for the second time in the 2012-13 season.
The Scots improved to 20-3 overall and 13-1 in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC), while the Tigers fell to 15-8 overall and 8-6 in the NCAC. Wooster has already clinched the regular season conference title and home court advantage in the upcoming NCAC Tournament, while Wittenberg remains in third place, one game ahead of DePauw, Kenyon and Denison with two games remaining.
Wittenberg jumped out to a 7-2 lead to start the game, but Wooster dominated most of the first half to take a 35-26 lead into the intermission. Trailing 49-36 midway through the second half, the Tigers reeled off 14 straight points, capped by a three-pointer by freshman Alex Fultz (Cincinnati, Ohio/Glen Este) at the 7:09 mark.
Wooster answered with 10 straight points of its own, and over the final eight minutes of the game the Scots missed just one shot from the field and one free throw. Still, junior Zack Leahy (Rossford, Ohio/Rossford) scored six points in a 14-second span to draw the Tigers within two points before Wooster hit four straight free throws in the final 17 seconds to finish off the victory.
Wittenberg shot 42.3 percent from the field, compared to 49 percent for Wooster, which also knocked down 10-of-21 shots from three-point range. In addition, the Scots outrebounded the Tigers 34-27.
Individually, Wittenberg was paced by junior Scott Masin (New Carlisle, Ohio/Bethel). He finished with his 12th double-double of the 2012-13 season as he contributed 18 points and 10 rebounds, including six at the offensive end.
Leahy topped the Tigers offensively with 19 points, while sophomore Sam Collins (Cleveland Heights, Ohio/Cleveland Heights) added 11 points, three rebounds and three assists. Also of note was the play of sophomore Ben Syroka (Toledo, Ohio/Whitmer), who finished with eight points and two steals in 18 quality minutes off the bench.