The Battling Bishops continued their strong start to the 2012-2013 season with wins over Capital University and Allegheny College last week.
Ohio Wesleyan defeated the Capital Crusaders 64-53 in a non-conference game and the Allegheny Gators 76-62 in their first North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) game of the season. This improved their overall record to 5-1 and 1-0 in the NCAC.
In the early minutes of the Nov. 28 match-up at Capital, the Crusaders raced to a 6-0 lead but OWU came back to tie the game 8- 8 and their momentum continued to grow. The Crusaders and Bishops each led the score at different points throughout the first and second halves, and Capital led by one point at half time.
The Bishops capitalized when the Crusader offense failed to follow through to take the lead for good with less than seven minutes left in the game.
Junior wing Dre White said the key to the Bishops’ comeback from the initial 6-0 deficit was persisting and finishing when first shots didn’t make it in the basket.
“The same kind of thing came up later in the game in close situations when the score was tied,” White said. “The team that was able to knock in the easy shots was going to win that game and in that case we were able to do that in some big possessions.”
Senior guard Andy Winters and senior wing Anjuwon Spence both said they remembered basketball is a “game of runs” and knew they had the ability to come back and win after Capital’s first run.
“We understood it was a long game and that we were capable of getting back into it one possession at a time,” Spence said.
Game announcers for Capital said the Bishops secured the win because they are more physical and experienced than the Crusaders.
White said the team’s experience and high number of upperclassmen are key elements in its success this year.
“In this past we have been the young team, but now with eight seniors we have experience on our side,” White said.
Winters said being familiar with the team is also helpful.
“We have been together for a while and understand each other,” Winters said. “This helps to overcome the obstacles during the game.”
Spence said the Bishops’ toughness is shown by their hard-nosed defense as well as mental and physical strengths.
“We have been in big games in tough atmospheres before, so we know how to respond and overcome adversity,” Spence said.
The Bishops also used this strength in their first NCAC game of the season, beating the Allegheny Gators on the road.
Against the Gators, Winters achieved a personal best and tied a school record with 13 assists, a number which has not been matched since 1977. He also had 12 points and a personal best of 11 rebounds all of which made him the first OWU men’s basketball player to post a triple-double. For his achievements, Winters was named a NCAC Player of the Week for the week of Dec. 3.
Winters said the team will have to continue to work hard for conference wins.
“It is always nice winning a conference game,” Winters said. “Allegheny is a good team and we played pretty well for 40 minutes. Our conference, from top to bottom, is really good this year. We will just continue to play one game at a time and understand that no game is a given.”
Spence said defeating Allegheny was the first step for the team’s goal of winning the NCAC championship.
White called the win “huge.”
“Our conference is always tough, and this year it may be as strong as it’s been from top to bottom,” White said. “So getting a big conference win on the road against a good team was an exciting start to our season.”
White said one of the team’s focuses for upcoming games will be offensive execution and consistency in knocking down shots.
“Right now, our defense and intensity keeps us into a lot of games,” White said. “If we can improve offensively while keeping up that same attitude, it will only make us that much better.”
The win against Allegheny wasn’t easy, Spence said, and showed the team how hard they would have to continue to work this season.
“I think we will have a very successful season if we continue to do what we do best – to defend, compete and play harder than every other team,” Spence said.
The Bishops’ next home game is Dec. 8 at 3 p.m. against DePauw University at Branch Rickey Arena.