BEREA - Sometimes you just have to be lucky.
"We were fortunate to win," said Baldwin-Wallace coach Steve Bankson following Thursday`s narrow 65-63 victory over Mount Union to open Ohio Athletic Conference play. The Yellow Jackets are now 3-3 overall with two straight wins.
Baldwin-Wallace came from 15 points down in the first half to send the Purple Raiders back to Alliance on the short end, but not before some luck and good fortune came into play. Mount Union has now lost its last eight basketball games to B-W.
First, the Yellow Jackets used a nine-point run to close out the first half and added the first four points of the second in closing what had been a 31-16 Raider lead with under three minutes left before the intermission. That whittled the deficit all the way to just 31-19 with a just over a minute gone in the second.
Then, Brenden Schuler, the lightning-quick 5-foot-11 senior guard, drove in to draw a two-shot foul with less than eight seconds showing on the clock to thwart Mount Union`s upset bid once-and-for-all.
"We set up a play for one of our other players," Schuler said. "I saw we weren`t going to be able to set it up. There was only 12 or so seconds left. I just wanted to make a move to the basket and try to kick it out if I could. I ended up getting a block (foul) and two free throws."
"He`s a very good free throw shooter," said Bankson. "That was big."
Finally, 6-6 junior Andrew Bene came through with a clean block of Sam King`s short drive and shot attempt at the hoop to eventually nail down the victory with a free throw with less than a second remaining. B-W`s final two-point spread was its biggest of the game.
"I knew it was too late to step in and take a charge," Bene said. "Normally, I do that, but in that situation the ref`s likely to call a block. I timed it right and got my whole hand on the ball. I thought they were going to call a jump ball but I didn`t hear a whistle. Ball was right there and I grabbed it."
"It was a clean block," said Bankson.
"You saw the game," said Mount Union coach Lee Hood. "How`d we lose?"
Hood felt several factors hurt his team`s effort, including the 21-3 free throw differential and an inadvertent buzzer that helped allow Schuler to the basket and draw the foul in the first place.
"My point guard stops playing," Hood said. "His man (Schuler) goes in and shoots.Â I was a little disappointed the way we go inside and only get three free throws. We had a 15-point lead with 2:40 to go then you get outscored 9-0 and (B-W) gets the first two buckets of the second half. Basically a 13-0 period."
Chris Crawford led the Raiders with 12 points. Olmsted Falls` Dave Pellerite finished with eight points to lead the local contingent of players that included Avon Lake`s Dave Reichlin and Lutheran West`s Andrew Hoefner.
"We got off to a slow start," Bankson said of the first half that saw the high-scoring Jackets held to just 16 points through the first 17 minutes. "(Mount) was defending us very intently. We weren`t able to shoot the ball. We said at halftime we were very fortunate to be down six points. We could have been down 15."
Dennis Santiago, coming off a career high 27 point effort against Case last week, had just three points Thursday while B-W`s leading scorer - Strongville native Kyle Brown - scored only two in the first half and 14 for the game - nearly seven points under his 20.6 average for the year.
"We got off to a rough start," said Schuler, who picked up the slack to lead the way with 16 points, three assists and two steals. "We escaped with the win. We`re 1-0 in the OAC."
Tyler Sekarek and Elyria High`s Louis Tumblin both contributed to the win. Sekarek had 13 points and three steals while Tumblin added 10 points and a couple key blocked shots.
"We`re glad to get it," said Bankson. "You have to win a game or two like that. It was a battle."
MOUNT UNION (63): Sam King 5-0-11, Chris Switzer 5-0-11, Mike Fatigante 1-0-2, Chris Crawford 6-0-12, Jay Mathis 4-0-11, Tyler Knoff 0-0-0, Luke Conley 1-0-3, Dave Reichlin 1-0-2, Dave Pellerite 2-2-8, Steven Shepherd 0-0-0, Andrew Hoefner 3-0-6. Totals 28-2-63.
BALDWIN-WALLACE (65): Brendan Schuler 4-6-16, Dennis Santiago 1-0-3, Tyler Sekerak 6-0-13, Andrew Bene 3-3-9, Kyle Brown 5-2-14, Jake Cayton 0-0-0, Zane Meeder 0-0-0, Louis Tumblin 3-3-10, Kyle Rockwell 0-0-0, Paul Glass 0-0-0. Totals 22-14-65.
Mount UnionÂ Â 31Â Â 32Â - Â 63
Baldwin-WallaceÂ Â 25Â Â 40Â - Â 65
Three-point goals: Mount Union 5-19 (Pellerite 2, King, Switzer, Conley). Baldwin-Wallace 7-19 (Schuler 2, Brown 2, Santiago, Sekerak, Tumblin). Field Goals: Mount Union 28-63 (44 percent), Baldwin-Wallace 22-58 (38 percent). Free Throws: Mount Union 2-3 (66 percent), Baldwin-Wallace 14-21 (67 percent). Rebounds: Mount Union 41 (Crawford, Mathis 11), Baldwin-Wallace 35 (Bene 10). Turnovers: Mount Union 16, Baldwin-Wallace 12. Assists: Mount Union 11 (Pellerite 3), Baldwin-Wallace 13 (Schuler, Sekerak, Bene 3). Steals: Mount Union 4 (Switzer2), Baldwin-Wallace 6 (Sekarek 3). Fouls: Mount Union 20, Baldwin-Wallace 9. Technical Foul: None. Fouled Out: Switzer.
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135