Quakers roar back to edge Muskingum
WC overcomes 11-point deficit to win, 64-61
January 4, 2012
Brandon Candella (at right) scored 14 points in Wilmington's road win over Muskingum. (John Swartzel photo)
NEW CONCORD — Wilmington College roared back from an 11-point second-half deficit to edge Muskingum, 64-61, in an Ohio Athletic Conference hardwood battle Wednesday night.
The win keeps the Quakers atop the OAC standings with a 5-1 record and brings Wilmington to 6-5 overall. Muskingum drops to 1-5 in the conference, 4-9 for the season.
“Not playing for two weeks, I thought we were a little sluggish at times tonight, but any time you get a win on the road in this league, it’s a great win,” Wilmington head coach K.C. Hunt said. “It was a great team win. We got nice contributions from guys off the bench and had some big plays down the stretch.”
After a first half that featured seven ties and ended in a 29-all dead heat, Wilmington found itself in a 41-30 hole after Muskingum opened the second period with a 12-1 run.
Antonio Bowman (Columbus/Whetstone) scored six points and Brandon Candella (West Chester/Lakota West) drained a 3-pointer and two foul shots as Wilmington turned up the tempo to take a 42-41 lead with 12 unanswered points.
“Our upperclassmen changed the game with their effort and intensity level,” Hunt said. “They just refused to let this team go quietly. Our effort and energy on the defensive end and the backboards got us back into the game.”
The final 10 minutes was a game of streaks. Both teams built five-point leads, but Wilmington closed the game with an 11-3 spurt to claim the win.
“Our guys were ready to play. It was just a roller coaster ride,” Hunt said. “Muskingum played a really good game. You have to give them credit.”
Bowman led the Quakers with 18 points while Candella and Malcolm Heard II (Wilmington) added 14 and 11 points, respectively. Heard made 4 of 5 shots and is shooting an NCAA-leading 71 percent from the field.
Ben Vonderhaar (Cincinnati/Colerain) scored eight points and R.J. Leppert (Liberty Township/Lakota East) contributed five rebounds and six assists. For the game, Wilmington handed out 16 assists while committing just nine turnovers.
“If we can have more assists than turnovers, we will have a legit chance to win every game we play,” Hunt said. “I thought we had a focus tonight of taking care of the ball and valuing every possession. We were also physically strong when we had the ball. It was good to see, and we need to continue to do that against a pressure team like John Carroll.”
Wilmington will host John Carroll 3 p.m. Saturday at Fred Raizk Arena. The Blue Streaks are 4-1 in the OAC after posting an 89-85 win over Baldwin-Wallace Wednesday night.