Wooster races by Cabrini
Fighting Scots benefit from three players scoring at least 20
WOOSTER, Ohio – The College of Wooster made 61.1 percent from the field to steadily pull away from Cabrini in a 94-77 victory on Friday night in an NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Championship sectional semifinal match-up in front of 3,230 fans at Timken Gymnasium.
The win sets up a meeting between Wooster (29-2) and Whitworth (28-1), which prevailed by a nearly identical score of 93-77 against Marietta College earlier in the evening, for the sectional championship on Saturday. Whitworth was ranked No. 1 in the final D3hoops.com poll before the NCAA tourney and was Wooster No. 5.
Against Cabrini (24-6), the Fighting Scots started out hot from outside, knocking down seven of their first nine 3-pointers, which helped lead to some quality looks in the post later and resulted in their second-best field-goal percentage of the season.
Matt Fegan and Justin Hallowell each made three from outside the arc during that opening stretch, the third of Fegan’s shots giving Wooster a 31-18 lead with just under 6:30 minutes to play in the half. Wooster extended the margin to 17 at 37-20 and 39-22, however, the Cavaliers stormed back with a 12-2 run to pull within seven at 41-34.
The Scots regained the momentum by closing the half with seven of the next nine points for a 48-36 advantage. That total was more points than they scored during their entire second-round victory, 47-45 against Manchester College last Saturday.
Cabrini’s Dom Farrello scored the first six points of the second to get his squad within 48-42. The advantage fluctuated between eight and 12 points until Wooster put together a 14-2 run, keyed by Josh Claytor who scored eight points. He helped the Scots open an insurmountable 20-point lead (76-56) with 6:00 remaining.
Wooster finished 33-of-54 from the field, including 11-of-22 on 3-pointers, while the Cavaliers were at 46.9 percent overall (30-of-64). The Scots also nearly doubled their visitors with a 39-20 rebounding margin, which helped offset 18 turnovers.
Bryan Wickliffe recorded his second-highest point total of the season with 23 on 10-of-11 field goals, all but one coming in the paint, while Wooster’s other inside force, Claytor, notched a season high with 15 points, which included hitting all five of his shots from the floor.
Joining Wickliffe in the 20s was Hallowell, who connected on 5-of-9 3-pointers as part of a 21-point night, and Ian Franks added 15 points and four of the Scots’ 21 assists. Franks and Wickliffe shared rebounding honors with eight apiece.
For Cabrini, Cory Lemons was a force, producing 20 points, eight assists, and three steals.
Earlier, Whitworth turned an early 8-5 deficit into a 20-point lead with a 28-5 stretch (33-13). Marietta, though, clawed back into it, and after being down 47-33 at halftime, pulled within five (47-42) early in the second.
The Pirates withstood the rally and built their lead back to double digits, where it stayed for the final 11 minutes.
Whitworth shot 61.7 percent from the floor (29-for-47), including 12-of-20 3-pointers (.600), and put three players over 20 points – Mike Taylor (27), Wade Gebbers (22), and David Riley (20).
The Pioneers’ Conner Kilpatrick came off the bench for a team-leading 16 points.
A spot in the national semifinals and trip to Salem, Va., next weekend will be on the line when Whitworth and Wooster tip-off Saturday.