Men’s Hoops Final WC 77, Muskingum 73

NEW CONCORD — The Wilmington College men’s basketball team build a 20-point lead in the second half and held off a Muskingum University comeback bid to sweep the Ohio Athletic Conference regular season series Wednesday evening with a 77-73 win.

The Fightin’ Quakers started hot, opening the contest on a 21-5 run that was capped by two three-pointers from Gavin Heimlich and one from Bryce Bird. The Fighting Muskies cut that deficit in half (32-25) on a Mason Purvis three with 4:27 to play in the first half, but a Collmann Aaron three and a Jeffery Mansfield layup pushed the visitor’s advantage to 44-34 at halftime.

The second half began just as the first with Wilmington on a large run. Three points from Bird capped a 16-4 run in the first eight minutes to put the Quakers on top 60-38, their largest lead of the game.

Muskingum, however, began to chip away at the deficit. Alex Masinelli, who entered the game averaging more than 20 points per game, began to get hot and fueled a 19-9 run that got the hosts within 68-57. Two minutes later, a Masinelli layup got Muskingum within 69-65.

Two Mansfield free throws pushed the WC advantage back to a half-dozen points, but the Muskies continued to wiggle off the hook and were within 72-69 with less than a minute to play. Two Masinelli free throws were answered by two Bird free throws, and after a Musky layup, Anthony Freeman made 1-of-2 free throws. A Bird steal ended the host’s comeback bid.

Individually, a pair of Quakers turned in double-doubles with Noah Dado leading the way with 17 points and 11 rebounds to go along with three blocks and two steals while Mansfield had 14 points and completed his double-double with 10 assists. Heimlich and Bird both scored in double figures off the bench. Masinelli led all scorers with 31 points while playing all 40 minutes for Muskingum in defeat.

Wilmington returns home for Senior Day to face nationally-ranked Marietta College 4 p.m. Saturday.