Oberlin fends off DU comeback bid

Patrick Keller (31) and Briggs King (44) combined for 19 points against Oberlin.
Patrick Keller (31) and Briggs King (44) combined for 19 points against Oberlin.

Austin Little scored 16 points and Geoff Simpson added 13 as Oberlin held off the Denison Big Red, 52-51 from Phillips Gym on Monday night.

With the final seconds ticking off the clock, DU had a chance to tie the game at 51-51, but Jon Akpapunam's twisting 3-point attempt was too strong, sealing the Big Red's fate.

On multiple occasions Denison trailed Oberlin by double digits.  Despite struggling all evening from beyond the arc, the Big Red mounted a comeback late in the second half.  First-year Patrick Keller got the wheels rolling when he connected on a 3-pointer with 9:35 to play.  That cut the deficit to three at 41-38.  Over the next five minutes the offense did not come easily for either team, but with 3:42 left a 3-pointer by Briggs King gave Denison a long awaited 46-43 lead.

After a DU turnover and a missed jumper by King, Oberlin got out in transition and Randy Ollie found Little camped out in the corner for a 3-pointer that tied the game at 46-46 with 2:10 to play.

After another untimely Denison turnover, Oberlin's leading scorer, Andrew Fox, knocked down a  3-pointer, putting his team up 49-46 with 1:39 left.  Denison took over possession and King took a quick 3-pointer that drew iron.  Oberlin's Emmanuel Lewis snagged the rebound with 1:21 remaining.

Oberlin would run the shot clock down on its next possession before missing a triple-try.  Denison's Alex Longi, who had the hot hand on the offensive end most of the night, had the ball poked away by Ian Campbell just before he crossed midcourt.  The ball bounced to the Yeomwen who called timeout with 34 seconds left, leading 49-46.

After the timeout, DU put Oberlin's Simpson on the line and he split the pair.  Denison's top scorer, Dimonde Hale, was held 12 points below his season average by the Yeomen, but he managed to gather a big offensive rebound and score on a put-back, trimming the deficit to 50-48 with 15 seconds left.  Oberlin's Simpson would split another pair of free throws, giving DU one last chance to tie the game.  That possession would result in the aforementioned missed 3-pointer by Akpapunam.  Oberlin would split another pair of free throws before DU's Darius White set the final score at 52-51 with a long 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Longi led Denison with 14 points, six rebounds and four assists.  Keller added 10 points in just 14 minutes of action.  Hale finished with nine rebounds but was just 3-for-7 from the field for seven points.  As a team, DU shot 40 percent from the field but struggled from deep, going just 5-of-23 from 3-point range.  They were also just 4-of-9 from the charity stripe.

Oberlin got 16 from Little and 13 from Simpson while three different Yeomen grabbed seven rebounds apiece.  OC held a 35-32 advantage on the boards while going 9-for-26 from beyond the arc.

Denison committed only 10 turnovers in the game but four of those came in the final four minutes of the game.  Oberlin turned the ball over 14 times.

The loss drops Denison's record to 3-5 overall and 1-2 in the North Coast Athletic Conference.  Oberlin improves to 3-6 overall and 2-1 in the NCAC.  DU will look to get back on track tomorrow night (Dec. 11) when they host Kenyon College for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off from Livingston Gym.