Freshman David Meurer scored a career-high 25 points and Denison went 12-for-14 at the foul line over the final 2:38 to nail down a key 81-75 North Coast Athletic Conference victory at Oberlin on Thursday night.
Trailing 68-66 with 2:38 to play, senior Alex Longi split a pair at the free throw line to shrink the deficit to one. On the ensuing possession, Meurer displayed his sticky fingers, knocking the ball away from Jesse Neugarten. In the scrum for the loose ball, Neugarten was whistled for pushing Meurer in the back, sending the Big Red rookie to the foul line.
With 2:29 on the clock, the freshman guard converted both attempts putting Denison back in front. On Oberlin's next trip down the floor, freshman Matthew Bauer swatted an attempt from Geoff Simpson. On Denison's next possession, Briggs King buried a triple to extend the DU lead to four with 1:55 to go.
After Simpson missed on the front end of a 1-and-1, Emmanuel Lewis was forced to foul Meurer with 65 seconds on the clock. The Granville native drained both tries to make it a six-point game. Over the final 1:05, Denison went 9-for-10 from the charity stripe to lock up the victory.
The Big Red led by as many as eight late in the first half before a 7-0 run by the Yeomen shrunk the gap to one as the two teams enter the locker room. Oberlin stayed within striking distance for the first four and half minutes of the second period before an old-fashioned three-point play by Austin Little put the home team up 44-43. Trailing 51-50, Denison went on a 12-4 run to build a seven-point lead with 8:09 on the clock. The Yeomen answered DU's run with a 13-4 outburst of their own to regain a 68-66 lead.
Meurer finished with a career-high 25 points on 6-of-8 from the field, including a 2-for-3 performance from beyond the arc, and an 11-for-12 night at the free throw line. He also recorded three rebounds, two assists and two steals. King and Longi both finished with 15 points. King also grabbed nine rebounds, while Longi dished out eight assists. With his 15 points, Longi needs just six tallies to become the 20th player in program history to reach 1,000-career points.
Simpson posted a game-high 28 points on 10-of-16 from the field, while Randy Ollie added 13 points and seven rebounds.
Oberlin converted a higher percentage from the field, but Denison did significant damage at the free throw line. The Big Red shot a season-best 87.5 percent from the charity stripe after knocking down 28 of 32 attempts. On the flip side, the Yeomen went just 11-for-19 at the line (57.9 percent). DU also held a 33-28 edge on the glass.
The Big Red evened its overall record at 10-10 and improved to 6-7 in the NCAC, while Oberlin falls to 6-14 and 3-10 in the league. Denison returns to the court on Saturday when they host 11th-ranked Wooster at 3 p.m.