WOOSTER, OHIO - What a difference a year makes! The men's basketball team lost 75-50 to the College of Wooster at home a season ago and returned the favor and stunned the 13th-ranked Fighting Scots on their home court of Timken Gymnasium on Saturday night in the championship game of the Al Van Wie/Rotary Classic by a final score of 57-56 in dramatic fashion. Senior Cody Barnes took the ball full court with nine seconds left and fired a 18-footer from near the top of the key which rattled around and through the rim as time expired to give the Bulldogs their biggest win under head coach Mark White.
The College of Wooster finished last season with a 26-5 overall record and reached the sectional semifinal of the NCAA Division III Tournament by winning twice in the nationals. The home crowd thought they would be celebrating a slim victory after Josh Claytor made a running half-hook shot in the paint with nine seconds left to give the hosts a 56-55 lead. The Bulldogs called a timeout and set up the game's final moments.
"This was an outstanding victory this early in the season with a relatively young team," commented White. "Our main goal is to get ready for conference play in January. These type of games build confidence and shows our team that we can compete with anyone. Wooster is a tremendous program with a rich history and great coaching. To win on the road makes this even more impressive, especially after last year's game."
One of the reasons for the tournament title was sophomore Eric Lewis. Lewis was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player after he finished tonight with 26 points, just one shy of his career-high. Lewis scored 19 points last night against Otterbein and tonight shot 11-of-17 from the floor and 4-of-5 from the free throw line.
"Eric has shown great improvement between his freshman and sophomore seasons," added White. "He and the entire team has worked hard in the offseason to become better. I really like our team's work ethic and believe we can do great things because we play with heart and determination."
Barnes was named to the all-tournament team finishing with 13 points including the buzzer-beater. He was 5-of-11 from the floor and also blocked a pair of shots in 25 minutes. Senior Sean Gallant struggled to find his shot but played steady defensively and led the team with nine rebounds. Adrian shot 38.2 percent (21-of-55) for the game and held the Fighting Scots to 32.7 percent (18-of-55) including 22.7 percent (5-of-22) from the arc. The game featured five ties and seven lead changes in the second half.