Meadville Tribune

Sports

January 11, 2014

College Basketball: Gators fall to No. 22 Ohio Wesleyan

MEADVILLE — For 34 minutes Saturday, most people would have thought the Allegheny men’s basketball team was ranked No. 22 in the D3Hoops.com Top 25 poll.

That honor actually belongs to Ohio Wesleyan, and it showed in the first six minutes of the second half on its way to a 76-64 win over the Gators at the David V. Wise Center.

It was a win the Battling Bishops had to work for.

Allegheny (3-10, 0-6 NCAC) started out a little slow, finding it difficult to hang on to the ball early on. Three turnovers in the first five possessions could have been costly. Fortunately, OWU was only able to capitalize for a 5-4 lead. Still, the early bobbles proved to be a sign of things to come.

“As a team we like to keep the turnovers under 13,” said head coach Jim Driggs. “(Saturday) we had 16. We can’t have those kinds of mistakes.”

AC got away with it because it was on fire from the field.

The Gators connected on 15-of-25 shots in the first half — that is 60 percent shooting. The team also went 3-of-7 (42.9 percent) from 3-point range and took its first lead 20-19 with 8:37 remaining. The lead would change hands a couple more times before senior D’Andre Corbin scored on a layup to give the Gators a 40-36 lead at the half.

“I thought we played well in spurts,” said Driggs. “But we can’t give up big runs. Our margin for error is just too small.”

The big run came right after the intermission.

OWU (10-3, 4-2) scored the first two buckets of the half to make it 40-40. The Bishops were just getting started. Turnovers, second chance points and the bench helped spark six minutes of domination that would define the final outcome.

Taylor Rieger led the Way for OWU with five points during the spurt. Claude Gray and Seth Clark each had four during the decisive run. And when all was said and done, OWU went from trailing 40-36 to leading 55-44 with 13:52 left to play.

“The margins of error, especially for us when playing a top 25 team, are very small,” said Driggs. “Give credit to OWU, but the turnovers hurt us. And it was not like they were out-pressuring us.”

It was back and forth from there.

Allegheny made its own run, cutting the deficit to 58-54 with 8:55 remaining. That was as close as Allegheny could get and Ohio Wesleyan pulled away for the final score thanks to some late free throws.

“We have proven we can compete with these teams,” said Driggs. “We just have to find a way to win the close ones.”

Rieger paced the Bishops with a game-high 20 markers. Gray (14), Clark (12), Matt Jeske (12) and White (11) also reached double digits.

Ryan Stanko led the Gators with 17 points. Corbin added 12 points and five assists in the loss.

“Ryan and Corbin did a good job,” said Driggs. “But who stood out to me was (Sam) Calhoun. He will get overlooked because he did not score. But he gave us 12 good minutes with some very good defense.”

Next up for Allegheny is a road trip to play Denison on Wednesday.

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