WOOSTER, Ohio – Top-ranked College of Wooster only trailed for one possession early in the first half but was never able to pull away from John Carroll University as the Fighting Scots battled their way to an 89-76 victory Tuesday night at Timken Gymnasium as part of the “Mose” Hole/Wooster Kiwanis Classic.
Both teams were in the preseason national rankings before John Carroll (7-4) slipped out of the top 25. Still, the Blue Streaks pushed No. 1 Wooster (10-0) like normal in this regional rivalry. The two have met in the NCAA Division III Championships five times since 1996, and last year, John Carroll edged the Scots 71-63 during a regular-season match-up.
After the Blue Streaks scored six unanswered to take an 8-7 advantage, Wooster strung together a 14-3 run with six points coming from Ian Franks. That turned out to be the Scots’ lone double-digit cushion of the opening half, as they went ahead 50-44 at the break behind Franks’ 23 points on 9-of-11 shooting.
Both offenses were cool early in the second period before Wooster broke through for nine points during a four-possession stretch, building its biggest lead of the evening at 61-46.
It would remain at least a three-possession game until John Carroll’s Joey Meyer hit a trio of 3-pointers, helping chip a 71-59 deficit down to 75-69 with 4:00 remaining. The Blue Streaks would not get any closer and the momentum swung back to the Scots when they collected back-to-back offensive rebounds and a bucket in the paint from Franks for a 77-69 lead at the 2:20 mark.
Wooster weathered one last John Carroll rally when Meyer had a rare misfire on an open 3-point attempt with 1:04 to play. Instead, the Scots sealed the outcome by draining six free throws during the last minute.
Franks led all players with 28 points and Justin Hallowell chipped in 19. The duo shared top honors in rebounding with seven apiece while Nathan Balch added 16 points and Josh Claytor had a season-high 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting.
Meyer’s 5-of-9 effort from beyond the arc helped him post 23 points in the setback, while Maurice Haynes tossed in 17 points on the inside before fouling out.
Earlier Tuesday evening, Spalding University upended Wilmington College 70-66 behind DeWhon McAfee’s 27-point effort. Antonio Brown led the Quakers with 23 points, six rebounds and six assists.