By Hugh Kerins
The Ohio Wesleyan men’s basketball teams’ season came to an end on March 9 in the second round of the tournament at the hands of Cabrini College with a score of 84-81. The Bishops went into the NCAA tournament with a regular season record of 22-5; they ended up finishing with a record of 23-6.
Their season record tallied the second most wins in school history and a personal best for Head Coach Mike DeWitt. Senior guard Andy Winters said a key to the team’s success this season and their run in the tournament was their chemistry.
“We are very close as a team,” Winters said. “We hang out all the time on and off the court and that is something that is special to have.”
Junior guard Taylor Rieger agreed with Winters and said their chemistry on and off the court was a big part of their success this season.
Senior post Billy Reilich said the team’s “cohesiveness” has also been instrumental in its achievements.
“It seems like everyone understands their roles and is perfectly okay playing them, we give each other advice and know how to take it just as well as give it,” Reilich said. “We trust each other unlike any team I’ve ever been on. It’s unreal.”
The team hosted their first round game of tournament against St. Vincent on March 2, which they won 84-75. During the first half the score remained close, and going into half time the score was tied 36-36. However, in the second half the team came together as a whole to pull away from St. Vincent.
The Bishop bench stepped up their game, adding 20 points down the stretch. Winters ended the game with 22 points and a team high of four assists. Rieger followed with 16 points and three assists, and senior Marshall Morris had a game high 11 rebounds.
Senior guard Eric Easley said the unity of the team and their “hard work” in practice led to their success against St. Vincent. Following their win against St. Vincent the Bishops hosted the second round tournament game against Cabrini.
Going into the game on March 9 the Bishops had been on a seven-game win streak. The first half of the game remained close all throughout with the Bishops leading at half-time with a score of 39-37.
The two teams rallied back and forth in the second half as each team made several scoring runs. The Bishop offense was led by Winters, junior guard Dre White and freshman post Claude Gray.
“In the game of basketball, scoring runs are inevitable,” Winters said. “Good teams are going to make a run and it becomes a possession-by-possession game. They happened to make a few more plays.”
The Bishops were able to keep the second half close until the final buzzer. Cabrini came back from the two-point deficit to win the game in the last minute with final score of 84-81.
While many fans were upset with officiating during the final minutes of the game, Winters said the team was able to recover from the calls.
“We needed to adjust and I believe we did for the most part,” Winters said. “We had a chance to win and go into overtime and that’s all you can ask for.”
Winters led the way in point for the men’s team with 22 points and six assists. Rieger would finish the game with 15 points, and Reuel Rogers grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.
Winter’s said the team was upset to see their successful season come to an end, but they were proud of all that they had accomplished.
“I can’t thank OWU enough for the experience I had on and off the court,” Winters said. “Everyone was so supportive and that is what makes OWU a special place to play.
“These eight seniors had a great career at OWU and we all expect big things from the classes to come. We will miss it but it is time to move on. I’m sure I can speak for all the seniors when I say ‘Thank you, OWU.’”