Thomas Pitney, Sports Editor
On Saturday, Dec. 3, the Wooster men’s basketball team traveled to Greencastle, Indiana to face off against the DePauw University Tigers. DePauw represented one of the biggest challenges for the Scots this season, as the Tigers entered this match with an overall record of 7-1 and a conference record of 1-0. The Scots embraced this challenge and put on a defensive clinic en route to a 68-54 victory.
In the first half, the game was very evenly matched. Both the Scots and Tigers traded buckets and neither team made a run to take control of the game. In fact, the largest lead held by either team in the first half was four points, only occurring when Wooster took a 10-6 advantage with 14:04 remaining in the half, and a 20-16 lead with 11:25 remaining. Jamir Billings ’25 sparked the Scots’ offense in the first half, scoring 11 points, making all three of his three-point attempts and racking up three assists before the intermission. Given the competitiveness of the first half, the score was deadlocked at 34-34.
In the early moments of the second half, it appeared as though DePauw may pull away with the victory. After Turner Kurt ’23 made a layup to give the Scots a 36-34 lead, the Tigers commenced a 6-0 run and seized a 40-36 lead. This run was fueled by a Grant Gohmann ’24 three-point play after being fouled on a jump shot and an Elijah Hales ’23 three-pointer. Wooster responded by going on a 7-0 run of their own, led by a JJ Cline ’24 layup, a Billings jump shot and a Kurt layup.
After the Scots displayed their resiliency, Wooster and DePauw continued to go back and forth. With 4:13 remaining in the game, the Scots only held a 59-54 lead over DePauw and it appeared as though the game would go down to the wire. During the closing minutes, however, Wooster ensured that the game would be out of reach for DePauw, with their defense leading the way. In fact, the Scots’ defense was so stout that DePauw did not score over the final four minutes. Najee Hardaway ’23 led the way on the defensive end for the Scots, as he held Hales — DePauw’s leading scorer — to only three points in the second half.
The Scots played complimentary basketball in the game’s final minutes, as they paired their stellar defense with nine unanswered points. With 3:55 remaining in the game, Elijah Meredith ’24 sunk a crucial three-point shot off of a Kurt assist to grow the Scots’ lead to 62-54. Meredith and Kurt expanded the Wooster lead to double digits 40 seconds later, when Meredith drained another shot from beyond the arc with an assist from Kurt. Almost two minutes later, Kurt put the final nail in the Tiger’s coffin, making a three-point shot of his own on a Billings assist to give the Scots a 14-point advantage. Wooster’s barrage of three-pointers sealed a comfortable 68-54 win against a talented DePauw squad.
With the win, the Scots improved to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC). As a result, the Scots sit at the top of the NCAC standings, a reflection of their early-season success.
The Scots hope to continue building on their early victories to maintain the #1 seed and home-court advantage in the NCAC. Wooster’s next game will be in front of their home fans against the #21 nationally-ranked University of Rochester Yellowjackets on Saturday, Dec. 10 at 2:15 p.m. Come out and cheer on the Scots as they attempt to pull off the upset!