PHOENIX -- A 17-1 run during a nine-minute stretch of the second half allowed second-ranked Wooster to score a 53-47 comeback victory against NAIA opponent Westmont on Monday evening in the first game of the Arizona Christian Classic.
Wooster (8-0) was only ahead for a brief stretch during the opening half and trailed 38-31 as the clock ticked under 10 minutes remaining, but that's when the Fighting Scots put together the decisive stretch. It started with a pair of DeVaughn Wingard free throws, and after a blocked shot by Wingard, Dan Fanelly converted a layup to make it a one-possession game (38-35) for the first time in the second half.
Westmont (8-3) answered by earning a trip to the charity stripe, making 1 of 2. Wooster continued its run, though, with Doug Thorpe canning a 3-pointer after a Scott Purcell offensive rebound, and a little more than a minute later, Xavier Brown produced a steal and two free throws at the 6:30 mark for the Scots' first lead (40-39) in more than 20 minutes of game action.
Wooster continued to play highly efficient on both ends of the court, as Kenny DeBoer sunk two free throws, Brown drove into the paint for a field goal, Josh Kipfer laid one in on the inside, and Thorpe knocked down a jumper, all while the defense kept the Warriors off the scoreboard. That added up to a 48-39 Scot advantage with a little more than 3:00 left.
Westmont finally ended the run at the 2:05 mark and added a 3-pointer on its next offensive series to pull within four (48-44), only to see Brown respond with a clutch jumper with 1:05 left, and Wooster never let the Warriors slice it to a one-possession game.
The key differences in the game statistically were Westmont's 21 turnovers, 10 of which were created by Scot steals, and free throw shooting. Wooster made 14 of 17 (.824), compared to the Warriors' 12 of 26 (.462).
Brown paved the way for the Scots, notching his third 20-point game of the season with 21 on 6 of 12 field goals and 8 of 10 free throws. Another noteworthy contribution came from Evan Pannell, who registered team highs in rebounding (five) and steals (three).
No. 8 Wisconsin-Whitewater 97, Alma 69
WHITEWATER, Wis. -- KJ Evans had a double-double at halftime with 20 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Warhawks in a 97-69 win against Alma on Monday evening.
UW-W never trailed in the game. With the score tied 4-4 at the 18:45 mark, the Warhawks scored eight in a row to go up 12-4. The lead hit double figures 17-7 on Evans' layup at 14:03. Alma would pull to within one 24-23 with 8:34 remaining in the half but the Warhawks finished strong with a 25-7 run to head into the locker room with a 49-30 advantage.
UW-W had 11 second-chance points and 15 points off turnovers in the first 20 minutes compared to Alma's combined three points in the same two categories. The majority of the Whitewater lead came from the free-throw line where the Warhawks made 16 of 20 compared to just 2 of 4 from their counterpart.
Evans was 6 of 10 from the field and 6-for-7 from the charity stripe in the first 20 minutes to lead all players.
UW-W's lead never dipped into single digits the rest of the way. The Scots would narrow the gap to 12 at 60-48 at 15:07 but that's as close as they would get. The Warhawks' largest lead of the game came from an Alex LeGault free throw that increased the margin to 30 at 97-67 with less than one minute remaining.
Whitewater won the game from the free-throw line. UW-W was 28-for-39 compared to Alma's 7-for-11. The Warhawks had the upper hand on the boards with 48, including 18 on the offensive glass, compared to 37 for the Scots.
Evans was the game leader finishing with 25 points and 13 boards. He was joined in double figures by Reggie Hearn with 14 points, Quardell Young had 12 and Eric Bryson added 11.