Battling a top-10 opponent Ohio Wesleyan, Denison nearly pulled off the big upset. The Big Red came up just short, falling 82-76 in Delaware, Ohio. Anchored by David Meurer ’17 and Darius White ’16 with 13 and 12 points respectively, the Big Red kept it close throughout the entirety of the game. White noted that even with the positive scoring for his team, Denison’s focus was to shut down OWU on the offensive side of the ball.
“OWU’s biggest strength is their three point shooting ability, so a big part of our strategy was to not overextend on defense so that we could close out to their shooters and be there ready to defend as soon as any of them caught the ball,” White said.
The Big Red managed to limit the Battling Bishops to only five 3-point baskets, shooting 22.7 percent (5-22) from beyond the arc. Giving OWU a taste of their own medicine, Denison hit 12 3-pointers, shooting 37.5 percent (12-32).
Battling back and forth, the Big Red managed to garner a seven point lead after Matthew Bauer ’17 hit a 3-pointer with 5:18 left to play in the second half.
“I feel like this was a key point in the game,” White said. “After Bauer’s three, OWU went on an 11-0 run over the next three minutes which pretty much put the game away. Had that run not happened so late in the game, I think we could have been able to answer it and get the lead back and win the game.”
Bauer snatched 10 rebounds against the Bishops, but was equally disappointed with the mentality of his squad after they squandered their largest lead of the game with only a few minutes left to play.
“We played a great 36 minutes where we were controlling the game the way we wanted,” Bauer said. “We mentally lapsed and had some bad turnovers, missed shots, and overall were playing not to lose.”
This has been a theme throughout the season for the Big Red. Against Kenyon on Jan. 13, the Big Red kept the game within three points with 3:31 to play, but dropped 14 straight points against the Lords in a key divisional battle.
White believes working on this weakness is crucial for Denison to make the next step.
“We’ve been able to play great basketball as a team for 30 to 35 minutes of the game, but it seems like there’s always a small stretch of a couple minutes where we don’t play at the level that we know we’re capable of playing,” White said. “If we can eliminate these dry spells, we can definitely beat any team in our conference.”
The Big Red return to action against the DePauw Tigers in Livingston Gymnasium, Wednesday at 6 p.m.