Down 10 with just 73 seconds to play, the Wilmington College men’s basketball team put together a thrilling rally to defeat Muskingum 80-79 in Ohio Athletic Conference play Wednesday at Hermann Court’s Fred Raizk Arena.
Nathan Scott, with an assist to Will Patrick, capped the rally on a layup with 13 seconds to play to give WC its one-point lead.
After the teams traded timeouts with six seconds to play, the Muskies got a shot off at the buzzer by Jarrell Marsh but it was off the mark.
The win puts Wilmington at 5-17 overall and 4-13 in the league. Muskingum drops to 6-18 overall and 3-14 in the OAC.
Wilmington now holds a one-game lead for the eighth and final spot in the OAC tournament heading into the regular-season finale 3 p.m. Saturday at Mount Union. The Muskies travels to No. 8 John Carroll Saturday needing a win and a WC loss to take the final spot.
“Hopefully this gets us in the tournament, assuming we keep fighting, and have to go try win on Saturday, ” said Wilmington head coach K.C. Hunt. “You never know, Muskingum wins and we lose Saturday, we are not in a great position. But from a standpoint of a win, it’s great for a young team to overcome and make plays in winning time. I am just really proud of the guys.”
Christian Jones led Wilmington with 22 points. DJ Iles scored 17 points and Scott tossed in 12 off the bench. Zach McCorkle had 10 points.
Scott led WC with six rebounds while Iles and McCorkle were team leaders with three assists each. McCorkle and Andrew Russell had two blocks each.
Wilmington scored 22 points off 20 Muskingum turnovers. The Muskies, on the other hand, surged into the lead thanks to 13 offensive rebounds that translated into 23 second-chance points.
The Quakers led 9-8 early but then the Muskies took the lead and held on the rest of the way. Until the final seconds that is.
Wilmington pulled with two and then one in the second half only to have Muskingum pull away. WC tied the game at 59-59 on a Scott three-pointer. Iles hit a three-pointer a few minutes later to make it 63-62 Muskies.
But then Wilmington surrendered 10 unanswered points and seemed to fading away with just five minutes to play. The difference was still 10 (79-69) when Joshua Glass of Muskingum hit a free with with 1:26 to play.
With the game, and the season, seemingly slipping away with 1:26 remaining, Hunt called a timeout to deliver a simple message.
“Defensively, we have to be super aggressive and look for steals, and offensively, make the right offensive play,” said Hunt. “There is no thing as a 10-point shot. Let’s continue to share the ball, but get down hill and attack the rim. We were super aggressive and played with a ton of energy to get us back in it. I thought we executed really well, made shots when we needed to and we finished plays; just an all-around great comeback.”
Patrick’s assist to McCorkle started WC’s winning rally. Christian Jones drained a three-pointer to get WC with 79-74. Patrick canned a pair of free throws with 55 seconds to play and it was 79-76 Muskingum. Iles then hit two more free throws and suddenly it was one-point game, 79-78.
While WC was making all 10 of its free throws, Muskingum was 23 for 34, but more importantly missed two with 13 seconds to play. Patrick grabbed the rebound and Scott ended up with the ball in his hands for a layin to give WC the lead.
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, or on Twitter @wnjsports.