Darius White connected on four free throw attempts in the final 15 seconds, thwarting an Oberlin comeback bid. The 69-65 Denison victory marks their third consecutive win and fifth victory out of their last six games played.
The Big Red got out in front early behind some inspired play by the Newark Catholic combo of David Meurer and Jett Speelman. The duo combined for 20 of Denison's 37 first half points. DU took a 13-point lead into the locker room and that lead grew to as much as 16 after a Patrick Keller bucket three minutes into the second half.
With just under 10 minutes to play, Oberlin began to knock on the door, cutting the Denison lead to seven after a Jack Poyle layup. Denison bounced right back with a Speelman 3-point play.
That started a trend with both teams trading punches down the stretch. When White drilled a 3-pointer from the corner with 4:13 left which gave Denison a 60-51 lead it was looking like the Big Red might put things away. After a 6-0 run by the Yeomen, the game was as close as it had been since the opening minutes of play at 60-57.
With 1:10 remaining, Meurer weaved his way into the lane and scored to put his team up five. Oberlin's Matt Walker countered with a 3-pointer to get Oberlin to within two with 51 seconds left. An unwavering DU squad inbounded the basketball and ran a play a play for Meurer who drove and kicked out to Speelman who connected on his fourth 3-pointer of the night with 35 seconds left.
On most nights that would be enough, but the scrappy Yeomen came right back with a 3-pointer from Jack Poyle with 15 ticks left. If DU were going to leave Oberlin with a win, they had to do it at the free throw line. White, the veteran senior guard, had his number called twice, going 4-for-4 from the stripe to put the game on ice.
It was another impressive win for a surging Big Red squad that has now moved into a tie for fourth place in the North Coast Athletic Conference standings. At 7-6 in league play, they trail third-place Hiram by just a half game.
Speelman finished with 21 points off a 6-of-11 performance in 30 minutes. He was 4-of-4 from 3-point range and was 5-of-6 from the free throw line. Meurer followed with 16 points while also going 6-of-11. He was 2-for-3 from long range and also dished out four assists while adding three steals. White chipped in 12 points while Devon Pitts led Denison on the glass with seven rebounds.
Oberlin was led by Randy Ollie's 22 points and nine rebounds. Walker finished with 13 points while leading all players with 11 boards. Poyle chipped in 12 while going 5-for-14. Denison shot 43 percent from beyond the arc (9-of-21) and was 82 percent from the free throw line (14-of-17). Oberlin got to the line only six times (4-for-6) and shot 29 percent from 3-point range (5-of-17). The Yeomen held a 38-35 advantage on the boards while the Denison bench outscored Oberlin's 22-8.
Denison will return to action on Saturday when they host The College of Wooster at 3 p.m.