LEXINGTON, Ky. – In its toughest test of the season No. 17 Wabash prevailed in a last-minute victory against Baldwin-Wallace, 63-61 to improve to 9-0 overall for the season.
With the win, the Little Giants will play Transylvania (6-0) on Wednesday in the final of the Don Lane Classic.
“This was a very hard-fought game between two excellent ball clubs,” head coach Antoine Carpenter said.
|Other Top 25 Scores|
|No. 2 Virginia Wesleyan 96, Wesley 74|
|No. 12 Puget Sound 93, Southwestern 75|
|No. 16 Wisconsin-Whitewater 89, Willamette 69|
|No. 19 Wooster 78, Sacred Heart 50|
Both teams struggled early, before the Yellow Jackets built a 10-point lead midway through the first half. The Little Giants would battle back thanks to the play of freshman Kasey Oetting and sophomore Andy Walsh. Both players hit back-to-back baskets to propel Wabash to a 22-21 halftime lead. Walsh recently joined Wabash basketball for his first season of play after serving as a backup quarterback for the Little Giants’ football team.
The Little Giants would get off to a slow start again in the second half, allowing Baldwin-Wallace to build up a seven-point lead just five minutes into the half in the Yellow Jackets’ attempt to knock off a top-25 team for the second time this season.
Hornet sophomore guard Grant Fairhurst hit four consecutive 3-pointers during the Baldwin-Wallace (6-3) run. He led the Yellow Jackets in scoring with season-high 20 points.
Senior big man Nick Curosh was a vital part of the Little Giant win despite being in foul trouble most of the contest. Curosh battled hard in the paint, leading Wabash in scoring with 11 points and six rebounds on the night.
The difference in the game came from the free throw line. Wabash knocked down 10-of-14 free throws while Baldwin-Wallace was 5-of-9. Both teams made 24 field goals in the contest.
Wabash also owned the offensive glass, outrebounding the Yellow Jackets 12-6. The Little Giants converted those 12 offensive boards into 10 second-chance points.
Derek Bailey sealed the win for Wabash hitting one of two free throws and blocking away a rebound attempt as the game clock expired, giving the Little Giants a big win.
Brian Shelbourne had 10 points on the evening, Aaron Zinnerman added another nine to go with a team-high seven rebounds. Walsh and Bailey both contributed eight, while Oetting had seven. Jordan Surenkamp finished with six points and Pete Nicksic scored four points to round out the box score for the Little Giants.
Wabash was held to just 33-percent shooting in the first half, but shot particularly well in the second, knocking in 15-of-27 shots.