SPRINGFIELD, Ohio – Five players scored in double figures helping the Wilmington College men's basketball team defeated previously unbeaten and No. 21 Wabash College 83-80 at the Kiwanis/Wittenberg Holiday Classic on Friday evening.
The Little Giants, who came into the game with a 10-0 record, jumped out to an 8-2 advantage and would lead by as many as 10 when Ben Stachowski's layup at the 7:10 mark made the score 28-18. The Fightin' Quakers battled back to tie the game on a DaeShawn Jackson three-pointer with just over a minute to play in the first half, but two free throws from Jack Davidson gave Wabash a one-basket lead, 37-35, at halftime.
Wilmington, which entered the game trying to snap a two-game losing skid, scored the first nine points of the second half on four free throws from Kevin Lewis, a triple from Jackson and a layup from BJ Hamilton. Wabash got on the scoreboard with a basket from Harrison Hallstrom at the 15:45 mark, but consecutive triples from Andrew Russell put the Quakers up 50-41 with 14 minutes to play.
Wilmington held that lead until two Davidson free throws tied the game 67-67 with 5:19 to go. After the Quakers failed to score on the ensuing possession, a Davidson layup put the Little Giants ahead by a deuce for the first time since early in the second half.
Neither team led by more than a basket the rest of the game. Wilmington went up three at 74-71, 76-73 and 78-75, but Wabash responded with a basket each time. A Davidson triple tied the game 78-78 with 2:12 to play.
After one possession for each team failed to result in any points, Abdul Kanu drew a foul and made 1-of-2 free throws. Jeffery Mansfield earned a steal and Wittenberg's next possession, and Kanu was fouled and hit both free throws this time around, putting Wilmington up 81-78. Two more free throws from Davidson cut the Wilmington lead to a single point (81-80). The Little Giants were forced to foul and elected to send Lewis to the line. Lewis converted 1-of-2 attempts, but Wilmington's defense came up with a stop and Lewis was fouled once again.
The senior made 1-of-2 for a second time, making the score 83-80. Wabash got the ball up the court quickly, but Connor Rotterman's potential game-tying triple at the buzzer was blocked by Kanu.
"It was a total team effort as we got contributions from up and down the roster tonight," Head Men's Basketball Coach K.C. Hunt said. "It was great seeing our group put two halves together against a high-level oponent."
Both teams shot between 40-42 percent from the field as well as over 70 percent from the free throw line. Wilmington separated itself from distance, however, making 9-of-26 (34.6 percent) compared to just 4-of-25 (16.0 percent) for Wabash. For just the second time this year, the Quakers outrebounded their opponent (44-41).
Individually, Davidson led all scorers with 36 points including a 17-of-18 performance at the charity stripe, but it wasn't enough to avoid Wabash's first defeat of the season.
Jackson led Wilmington with 21 points in a starting role for the first time this season. Lewis added 17 points while Kanu contributed 10 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. Will Patrick and Russell also scored in double figures off the bench.
Wilmington (6-4) faces host and No. 11 Wittenberg University tomorrow (Saturday) at 7 p.m.