Section: Sports

Lords’s late comeback against Fighting Scots falls short

Lords’s late comeback against Fighting Scots falls short

Emily Stegner, Collegian

By Ben Payner

At this point in the season — when wins matter above all else — it’s hard to argue that a loss could in fact be a moral victory. But the Lords basketball team’s two-point loss to 20th-ranked College of Wooster was arguably their best-played game and certainly their best team effort of the season. Although they found themselves on the wrong end of conference clashes with Wooster and Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU), losing to their North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) fellows 93-91 and 102-93, respectively, this week still did bring some successes.

Last week, on Feb. 4, the Lords sprinted out to a 16-10 lead in the first seven minutes, but Wooster caught fire and took a 48-29 lead into the half. Words hardly suffice to describe what the 185 people in attendance witnessed during the second half: falling behind by a significant 27 points with 13 minutes and 35 seconds left, the Lords absolutely stunned Wooster, fighting all the way back and tying the game on a beautiful pick-and-roll from Cooper Handelsman ’15 to Chris Link ’17 with 1:29 to play. After misses on both ends, Wooster’s Xavier Brown hit a tough pull up jumper with 31 seconds to play to give Wooster a two point lead. The Lords’ final possession consisted of a frantic scramble for a loose ball that gave them possession under the basket with six seconds remaining. A nicely drawn-up in-bounds play had Handelsman coming to his left with the ball off screens by John Bray ’15 and Brien Comey ’16. Unfortunately, Handelsman’s pull-up elbow jumper was off the mark. 

Handelsman, Link, Bray, Tim Connolly ’16, Alexander Powell ’18 and Jonathan Amador ’15 all played key roles in bringing the Lords back in the second half. Handelsman, Bray, Powell and Connolly all had double-digit scoring games. The 62 second-half points were more points than the Lords have scored in eight games so far this year. The 67.6 percent shooting was also a season best for a half. “Slow starts have really hurt us and negated some of the strong individual performances,” Bray said, shedding light on the loss. Even though the Lords started fast in this particular, they were not competitive for a full 40 minutes.

The Lords’ defense let them down against OWU, specifically their three-point defense. OWU made 18 three-pointers on 52.9 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Despite hot shooting of their own — the Lords shot 51.4 percent ­— they never fully responded from OWU’s hot start and never got within eight points of the Battling Bishops all second half. The core four of Handelsman, Connolly, Bray and Powell once again all scored in double figures.  Handelsman also dished out a career-high 14 assists. In his last two games, Handelsman has scored 30 points and had 21 assists to just six turnovers. If the Lords had managed victories, he’d definitely be a strong candidate for NCAC Player of the Week.

With four games left to play, the Lords are still in control of their fate. Win out, and they’re in the conference tournament. Lose, and they’ll need some help. Hopefully they can keep their offense clicking while shoring up the defense in the next two weeks. Captains Bray and Handelsman are on the same page when it comes to what needs to be done: “Once we get it going, we can play with anyone in the conference — we showed that against Wooster,” Bray said. “We’ve played the top two teams in our conference and battled with them,” Handelsman added. A big focus will be avoiding slow starts and competing for a full 40 minutes.

Last night, the Lords stole a big win from Denison University. They beat the Big Red 66-62.


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