By Pete Chiodo
Even while the losses continue to accrue for the Allegheny College men’s basketball team, the Gators have been playing some solid ball over the last few weeks, picking up their first two wins in the North Coast Athletic Conference and taking nationally-ranked Ohio Wesleyan into overtime this past Saturday.
That streak of improved play hit a brick wall on Wednesday, however, as Wooster — ranked eighth according to D3Hoops.com — hammered the Gators 89-57 at the David V. Wise Center.
“That was the first game this year that we kind of got handled,” said Allegheny head coach Jim Driggs. “I told the guys just now, (Wooster is) a good team. It was the one time this year we just got handled and didn’t have a shot.
“I wouldn’t be surprised to see that team make a run in March. It’s the eighth best team in the country right now. They don’t make mistakes.”
With the win, Wooster improves to 21-3 on the season and 15-2 in the NCAC.
Allegheny drops to 5-19 overall and 2-15 in the conference.
After Wooster went up 7-0 to start the game, Allegheny brought the Scots back down to Earth with back-to-back 3-pointers from Ryan Stanko and Evan Zabriski.
The Gators continued to keep it close for much of the first half. And with 6:34 left in the first, Allegheny was still within arm’s length of the Scots at 27-22.
That margin would not survive the next three minutes, however. Wooster went on a 16-0 scoring run, during which the Scots made six of eight buckets, including four of five 3-pointers.
Sam Calhoun ended the Scots’ streak with a 3-pointer for Allegheny. By that point, however, the Gators were stuck in a hole from which there would be no digging out.
Wooster was led by its small but quick and accurate backcourt. Guard Doug Thorpe paced the team with 20 points, hitting five of seven 3-pointers. Fellow shooter Xavier Brown followed with 17 points.
“They’re not as big as the Wooster teams in the past, or in my four years here,” said Driggs. “But they have two of the best guards you’ll see on this level in Thorpe and Brown.”
Offensively, Allegheny was led by Stanko with 15 points. Zabriski and Josh Valentic tallied 11 points each.
Wooster also enjoyed a distinct edge in rebounding. The Scots out-boarded the Gators 40-22 for the game. Among those stats was a 13-3 advantage in offensive rebounds for Wooster, and a 19-0 margin in second-chance points.
“What really surprised me tonight was we got our butts kicked on the glass,” said Driggs. “They had 12 second chance points in the first half. We haven’t been getting our butts kicked on the glass like that. You have to give them credit. As good as they are, as well-coached as they are, I don’t think it’s the best rebounding team that (Wooster head coach Steve Moore) has had. But they kicked our butt on the rebounds.”