WOOSTER, Ohio — The 101st installment of the Wittenberg-Wooster rivalry was another classic, decided when Zack Leahy rebounded a missed three-pointer and laid the ball in at the buzzer to give the Tigers a thrilling 56-55 victory.
The win pushed Wittenberg, celebrating its 100th season of play, to 3-2 on the season, including a 2-0 mark in the North Coast Athletic Conference. Wooster, ranked fifth nationally, dropped to 5-1 overall and 1-1 in the NCAC. Wittenberg, which won for the third time in the last 10 trips to Wooster, now holds a 53-48 edge in the all-time series.
Nearly half of the meetings between the two teams since Wittenberg joined in the NCAC in 1989 have been decided by six points or less. Few, however, have been decided in such dramatic fashion as Leahy capped a second half that featured five ties and three lead changes.
The stage was set for Leahy’s heroics over the final six minutes as Wooster’s Xavier Brown scored his team’s final six points, starting with a pair of game-tying jumpers at the 5:55 and 4:44 marks. However, he made just 2-of-4 free throw attempts in the final minute, opening the door just enough for the Tigers, who countered with a basket by Alex Brandt with 4:57 left, a free throw by Clayton Black with 34 seconds left and Leahy game-winner at the final horn.
While the final outcome was exciting, the action between the two teams was ragged at times as the defenses dominated. Wittenberg shot just 33 percent from the field, compared to 39 percent for Wooster. The Scots won the rebounding battle by 16, but Wooster committed 19 turnovers, compared to just 10 by the Tigers.
Brown led both teams with 21 points, although he committed seven turnovers, including a key double dribble against full-court pressure with just over 30 seconds remaining. He was the only Wooster player in double figures offensively.
Wittenberg put three players in double figures, led by Brandt with 14 off the bench. McKee added 13 points and five rebounds, while Black overcame 2-for-9 shooting from the floor to finish with 10 points, four rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots.
Leahy turned in perhaps his best all-around game since transferring from Toledo over the summer, finishing with four points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals against zero turnovers in 23 quality minutes off the bench.