WILMINGTON, Ohio - Four individuals scored in double figures to give the Wilmington College men's basketball team a 92-81 victory over Muskingum University in Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) action from Hermann Court on Wednesday evening.
The first 12 minutes were played within a nine-point window as the Fighting Muskies largest lead was 9-4 at the 16:48 mark with the Fightin' Quakers on top by as many as four (27-23) with 8:21 to play in the first half. Two free throws from Jeffery Mansfield and a layup from Emmanuel Opku put the hosts ahead by eight, but the visitors answered by cutting the deficit to a single point (33-32) on a Brandon Keyes layup with 3:34 to play in the first half.
A quick 8-0 spurt from Wilmington fueled by triples from BJ Hamilton and Aaron Mullins put the Quakers up 41-32, and even after Muskingum looked to get into the locker room down six, a triple from DaeShawn Jackson gave the hosts a nine-point cushion, 46-37, at halftime.
Despite leading the entire second half, Wilmington couldn't put the Muskies away completely. A Mitch Clark layup fell through with 7:11 to play and Muskingum found itself trailing just 69-64. Wilmington answered with a run that put the game out of reach, however, as an old-fashioned, three-point play from Abdul Kanu, a layup from Andrew Russell and a triple from Will Patrick that followed put the Quakers on top 77-64 with five minutes to go.
Muskingum would get back within seven points on two occasions, but Wilmington hit free throws down the stretch to earn its third consecutive OAC victory.
"We did a great job grinding out a victory tonight," Head Men's Basketball Coach K.C. Hunt said. "Give Muskingum credit for shooting the ball well from distance, but we stayed the course."
Wilmington finished 44.3 percent (31-of-70) from the field as well as 28.0 percent (7-of-25) from distance and 69.7 percent (23-of-33) from the free throw line. Muskingum countered with 39.3 percent (24-of-61) from the field, 50.0 percent (13-of-26) from distance and 83.3 percent (20-of-24) from the charity stripe. The Quakers, who improved to 8-0 on the year when scoring 80 or more points, won the rebounding battle 42-40 as well as blocking a season-high nine shots.
Individually, Kanu led Wilmington with a career-high 19 points on 8-of-9 shooting to go along with three blocks. Jackson chipped in 14 points, nine rebounds three assists and two blocks while Mansfield and Patrick both scored in double figures off the bench.
Devon Peart led Muskingum with 22 points including an 11-of-12 performance from the free throw line in defeat. Trey Singleton contributed 18 points off the bench for the Muskies.
Wilmington stands at 10-5 overall on the season with the victory. The Quakers also finish the first half of conference play with a 6-3 record, marking the best OAC record at the midway point of the conference season since 2014.
The second round of OAC play begins on Saturday for Wilmington as the Quakers travel to the University of Mount Union for a 1 p.m. contest (note the time change).