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The youthful Battling Bishops came of age Saturday afternoon.
Ohio Wesleyan (6-11, 2-6 NCAC) snapped a three-game losing streak by upsetting favored Kenyon (13-5, 6-3 NCAC) on the strength of a strong finish befitting a veteran team in a 63-61 North Coast Athletic Conference women’s basketball victory before a vocal gathering at Branch Rickey Arena.
“We didn’t have that 5-minute offensive lull we have had in previous games. We kept our composure when the game was on the line … both offensively and defensively,” OWU head coach Stacy Ungashick Reed said. “On offense, we did a better job finishing when we got the ball inside. At the defensive end, we not only forced Kenyon to work for open shots, but we forced them into numerous turnovers.”
The Battling Bishops, other than a 3-2 deficit 91 seconds into the contest, never trailed in the opening half and led by as many as 12 points in the first 20 minutes behind the outside shooting of 5-foot-2 sophomore wing Julia Grimsley, who scored 10 of her 13 points before the break. On the defensive side, an active OWU defense limited the Ladies to a 29.6 (8-for-27) first-half shooting percentage.
Ohio Wesleyan would carry that energy into the second half to stretch the lead to 44-31 with 14:50 remaining before Kenyon would make a late run and take only its second lead of the contest at 53-52 with 6:52 left in the contest.
Kenyon, 12-3 over its last 15 starts, unleashed a 22-8 run fueled by the outside shooting of 5-6 sophomore guard Maggie Boelter. Boelter buried three treys in a 4-minute span to knot the game at 46-46 with 9:40 left. Senior Morgan Korinek’s 3-point play on the heels of baskets by junior Kayla Ernst and freshman Sarah Hobbs capped the run as the Ladies grabbed the 1-point lead.
But the Bishops scrapped their way back into the lead as 5-9 sophomore post Tamra Londot counted a jumper from the lane off an assist by 5-8 freshman guard Mary Corbett for a 54-53 lead with 6:25 left. Following a Kenyon turnover, Corbett buried a three on a pass from 5-6 freshman guard Sarah McQuade and Corbett came back with a basket off a Londot offensive rebound and the hosts were back in command, 59-53, with 4:05 remaining.
“Our younger players came through in the clutch with the outcome of the game hanging in the balance,” the coach said. “They refused to back down when Kenyon made its late run at the lead.”
The Ladies battled back behind a full-court press to get within two of the lead at 61-59, but two clutch free throws by McQuade bumped the OWU lead back to four at 63-59 with 57.8 seconds remaining, a lead the Bishops would make stand up as time expired on Kenyon.
Three players, led by Corbett with 15 points, scored in double figures for OWU. Grimsley followed with 13 and 5-11 freshman post LaNiece McRae with 12 points. Led by Corbett, who was 6-for-8 from the field, including 3-for-4 from 3-point range, the trio combined to shoot 56.7 percent (17-for-30) from the field. Corbett and Grimsley were 6-for-9 from 3-point range.
The Bishops shot 40 percent (26-for-65), from the floor, including 6-for-14 in threes, while adding 5 of 11 free throws. McQuade, Londot and Corbett added 3 assists apiece. OWU totaled 15 turnovers at the expense of 13 points. The Bishops, led by McRae’s 9 rebounds, claimed a 41-30 edge off the glass. Junior Helen Scheblo and Corbett followed with 8 rebounds apiece. McRae collected 4 of the host’s 5 blocked shots.
Ernst led Kenyon with 17 points while 5-9 sophomore guard Maureen Hirt followed with 16 points and 9 rebounds. Boelter and Korinek followed with 12 points apiece. The Ladies, who came back to shoot 60 percent (15-for-25) in the second half, finished with a 44.2 percentage (23-for-52), including 33.3 percent (5-for-15) in threes. Kenyon was 10 of 12 at the charity stripe. The Ladies turned the ball over 19 times, losing 12 points.
Hirt, a 19.3 points-per-game scorer for the Ladies, came into the game as one of the top-ranked 3-point shooters in the nation, shooting 48.5 percent (65-for-134) and averaging four treys per game. She was held to a 2-for-5 effort by Grimsley after hitting seven threes in a row during a 30-point night in a 74-51 NCAC win last Wednesday over Wittenberg,
“Julia did a great job defensively against Hirt by not letting her get free for the open shot,” Ungashick Reed said. “We had a night of efforts like that from our entire team.”
Ohio Wesleyan, with a 43-31 advantage, leads the all-time series with Kenyon.
The Battling Bishops return to NCAC action Wednesday at Wooster at 6 p.m. Their next home game is Saturday, Jan. 28 with DePauw at 1 p.m. at Branch Rickey Arena.
Ohio Wesleyan 68
Senior wing Tim Brady sank a pair of free throws to bring Ohio Wesleyan within 69-68, but Wooster hit 3 free throws down the stretch and held on for a North Coast Athletic Conference win over the Bishops on Saturday in Wooster.
Ohio Wesleyan had taken a 62-61 lead on a 3-pointer by junior guard Eric Easley with 5:30 left in regulation time, but the Fighting Scots scored the next 5 points, collecting a free throw by Doug Thorpe, along with 2 charity tosses and a bucket from Josh Claytor, for a 66-62 lead with 3:09 to go.
Baskets by junior guard Andy Winters and Brady brought the Bishops within 67-66, and after another Claytor jumper, a pair of Brady free throws made it 69-68 with 1:02 left in regulation time.
Brady then stole the ball from Claytor with :35 left, giving the Bishops a chance to take the lead, but Ryan Snyder stole the ball back from Easley with :11 remaining. Matt Fegan hit a pair of free throws to give the hosts a 71-68 lead, and after a Bishop miss, Justin Warnes hit a free throw with :02 remaining to seal the outcome.
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