A 17-4 run to close out the game pushed seventh-ranked Ohio Wesleyan to an 82-76 victory over the Big Red men's basketball team in North Coast Athletic Conference action from Delaware, Ohio on Saturday.
Denison took an early 3-0 lead when Darius White found Devon Pitts for a three at the 19:33 mark. The first half was back-and-forth until a 6-1 run by the Bishops over the period's final 4:47 gave them a seven-point lead at the break. Pitts led Denison with eight points and five rebounds in the first 20 minutes and the Big Red hit six 3-pointers in the opening half.
The Big Red fought back coming out of the locker room, pulling to within one basket after an Andrew Castagnetti triple with 15:18 to play. Just over two minutes later, David Meurer converted a fast break layup to give the Big Red a 56-55 lead, their first in nearly 20 minutes of game action.
The teams went back-and-forth with neither side getting ahead by more than four points over the ensuing eight minutes. With 5:18 left in the second half, a Matthew Bauer 3-pointer put the Big Red ahead 72-65. However, a combination of free throws and layups fueled the Battling Bishops late run that put them ahead for good.
Denison was led in scoring by Meurer, who provided 13 points off the bench. He also added three assists. White finished 4-for-8 from beyond the arc en route to 12 points. The senior is now three triples shy of breaking the career record of 209. As a team, Denison hit 12 three pointers. Pitts finished with 10 points and eight assists while Bauer logged his third double-double of the season, finishing with 10 points and 10 boards.
Ohio Wesleyan was led by Nate Axelrod with 23 points to go along with five rebounds and seven assists. Ben Simpson added 19 points and seven boards for the Battling Bishops.
Defensively, the Big Red held OWU to just 5-for-22 shooting from long range and outrebounded the Bishops 39-33. Ohio Wesleyan finished with a 50-30 scoring advantage in the paint.
Denison falls to 9-8 on the season, 4-6 in conference play while Ohio Wesleyan improves to 16-1, 9-1 in NCAC play. The Big Red returns home on Wednesday when they host the DePauw Tigers for a 6 p.m. matchup at Livingston Gymnasium.
By Alex Kaufman
Denison Sports Information Student Assistant