Quakers edge John Carroll in semifinal thriller
Heard scores 34 in 79-74 win
February 23, 2012
Brandon Candella and the Quakers were 79-74 winners over John Carroll in an OAC Tournament semifinal. (John Swartzel photo)
UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS — Wilmington College closed the game with an 8-3 run to upset top-seed John Carroll, 79-74, in an Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament semifinal Thursday night.
The No. 5 seed Quakers will take a 15-12 record into Saturday’s OAC final at Capital. The No. 2 Crusaders held off Ohio Northern, 66-61, in Thursday’s other semifinal. The winner of Saturday's final will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.
“We came in here and showed a lot of heart and guts,” Wilmington head coach K.C. Hunt said. “I thought the pure effort that our kids put on the line tonight was awesome. We beat a really, really good team on their floor. I think John Carroll deserves an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.”
Malcolm Heard II (Wilmington) was a man with boys, hitting 4 of 5 first-half 3-pointers and scoring 20 points. When Heard hit his fourth trey at 1:53, the Quakers led, 43-29.
Wilmington’s propensity to give up big runs surfaced at the end of the half as the Blue Streaks (18-7) scored six unanswered points to cut the Quakers’ lead to 43-35 at the break.
The only thing that had a chance to slow down Heard was foul trouble, and it did. The sophomore forward picked up his third foul at 15:45 and the Quakers up, 51-44. When Heard returned 2 minutes later, Wilmington’s lead had been sliced to 53-52.
Antonio Bowman (Columbus/Whetstone) and Heard scored as the Quakers went up 57-52, but Joe Meyer hit a pair of free throws to cap a 6-0 spurt that put John Carroll up, 58-57, at 10:06.
The battle was just beginning.
Bowman went coast-to-coast to put Wilmington back into the lead with a 3-point play at 9:18, but the Streaks answered with a trey to go back in front.
Neither team flinched down the stretch. Bowman scored on a baseline drive to put Wilmington up, 73-71, at 1:00.
The Blue Streaks couldn’t connect on their next possession and Heard was fouled pulling down his 10th rebound of the game. Heard hit the front end of the one-and-one and R.J. Leppert (Liberty Township/Lakota East) claimed the offensive board. Leppert hit one of two to put Wilmington up four and Heard rejected a shot at the other end to seal the deal.
Heard finished with career-high 34 points, 11 rebounds, three blocked shots and two steals in a performance for the ages.
“Malcolm was a man among boys all night long,” Hunt said. “I thought our kids did an excellent job of identifying when he had mismatches. We did a great job as a team of finding him and delivering the basketball on time.”
Bowman scored 18 points and Klarke Ransome (Richwood/North Union) added nine.
“A-B has been a real senior leader in the tournament,” Hunt said. “He is playing the way you expect a senior point guard to play. He is making good decisions. He is getting others involved and he is making big plays when we need them.”
Leppert added six points and 11 boards, five of which came off the offensive glass.
The Quakers hit 31 of 60 shots from the field and out-rebounded John Carroll, 41-37.