WILMINGTON — The Wilmington College men’s basketball team and John Carroll University played the first 37-plus minutes in a 10-point window, but the Blue Streaks went on a 6-0 run with the game tied down the stretch to earn a 78-72 victory in the opening round of the Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament Monday evening at Fred Raizk Arena.
In what proved to be an incredibly close game throughout, neither team led by more than five points for the majority of the contest. JCU took five-point advantages at 29-24 and 32-27, but Wilmington battled back to take a three-point lead on a pair of Noah Dado free throws with 30 seconds to play. A David Gentry layup sent both teams into halftime with the hosts up 42-41.
Early on in the second half, it was the Fightin’ Quakers’ turn to take a five-point advantage (48-43) as Collmann Aaron connected on a three-pointer with 17:35 to play. The Blue Streaks flipped the script, however, with a 13-3 run capped by a PJ Flannery three-pointer put JCU up 59-54. Wilmington battled back to tie it several minutes later, and neither team led by more than a possession. A Jeffery Mansfield free throw tied the game 66-66 with 6:37 to play, but the hosts got stuck on that number a little too long. JCU scored six unanswered points over the next five minutes, and that would be enough to escape Hermann Court with a postseason road win.
Individually, both Mansfield and Dado turned in double-doubles with Mansfield leading the way with 22 points and 14 rebounds. The Wilmington High School graduate missed a triple-double by a single assist with nine. Dado had 18 points and 10 boards.
With the win, John Carroll, seeded No. 10, will move on to face the University of Mount Union, seeded No. 2, in the OAC Tournament quarterfinals. Wilmington, which was seeded No. 7, concludes its season with a 6-19 overall record.