TIFFIN, Ohio - The third time did, in fact, prove to be the charm for the Wilmington College men's basketball team. After a pair of narrow defeats at the hands of No. 15 Heidelberg University to end the regular season last weekend, the Fightin' Quakers handed the Student Princes an early exit from the 2021 Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) Tournament with a 62-58 victory on Tuesday evening.
The win, Wilmington's first in six games in the OAC Tournament, propels the Quakers to the semifinals and a date with No. 6 Marietta College on Thursday evening. The loss ends a terrific season for Heidelberg at 9-3.
The contest looked very similar to the previous two over the weekend, a defensive slugfest. For the third time, the halftime score was within a single possession as Wilmington led 33-31 thanks in part to three triples and 13 points from Jeffery Mansfield.
The first half of the second half was much of the same. Two Bilal Sow triples put the hosts up 44-41 with 11:50 to play, but then Heidelberg's defense, which coincidentally did the same thing at about the same time in the game at Fred Raizk Arena on Saturday, locked down defensively. The Student Princes held the Quakers to one point over the next six minutes. Wilmington also played solid defensively, allowing just eight points during that time.
Trialing 49-44, the Quakers got out of the rut with an old-fashioned, three-point play from Jeffery Mansfield and followed that up with a basket from Jackson Todd and a triple from Bilal Sow. Seth Hohman answered with the hoop and the harm for Heidelberg, but another Todd layup followed by another triple from Sow at the 1:57 mark gave WC a 57-56 edge. Alex Arellano, the reigning OAC Men's Basketball Player of the Week, made two free throws on the ensuring possession, but with under a minute to play, Hunter Ruckel found Sow open in his favorite spot, the baseline, for at triple which the Canal Winchester alumnus buried.
Now trialing 60-58, Heidelberg got off two shots, both of which missed. Thanks to two offensive boards, the Student Princes retained possession with 15 seconds left. Out of a timeout, however, Todd got his hands on a pass and put the game away with a layup in transition.
Both squads shot 37 percent from the field with Heidelberg holding a 22-21 edge in made field goals alongside a 40-29 victory in the battle of the boards. Wilmington countered with a 10-of-29 (34.5 percent) performance from beyond the arc as well as converting 10-of-13 (76.9 percent) from the free throw line.
Mansfield led all scorers with 18 points to go along with seven rebounds, three assists and two steals. Sow scored 15 points off the bench while Todd also finished in double figures with a dozen. A trio of Student Princes – Emmanuel Perdue, Arellano and Hohman – scored in double figures with Arellano tallying a double-double.
Wilmington's matchup with Marietta will tip-off at 7 p.m. on Thursday.