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No. 25 Denison escapes Oberlin with win

Devon Pitts
Devon Pitts

OBERLIN, Ohio--  No. 25 Denison overcame 18 turnovers and a 3-of-14 performance from beyond the arc to defeat Oberlin, 72-69 from Phillips Gym.  The Big Red did it with muscle, scoring 42 of their 69 points in the paint while outrebounding the Yeomen 41-21.

With 3:19 left in the first half, Denison found themselves trailing by eight after Jack Poyle's 3-pointer following a steal by Zach Meyers.  A jumper by Jett Speelman followed by a trey from Claude Chandonnet limited the damage and sent Oberlin into the locker room with a 38-35 lead.

In the second half, the deficit was erased in the first 90 seconds thanks to a pair of baskets by DU senior Bret Woolard.  A 13-4 run by the Big Red halfway through the period put them out in front 60-52 with 6:33 to play.  After Johnny Vernasco's put-back off his own offensive rebound with 2:18 left it looked as if the Big Red had things well in hand, leading 67-56.  Oberlin countered with seven points in the span of a minute, trimming the DU lead back to six with 58 ticks left on the clock.

After David Meurer split free throws on consecutive possessions, Oberlin's Poyle drilled his fifth 3-pointer of the game making the score 71-66 with 23 seconds remaining.  A steal by Oberlin's Christian Fioretti led to a layup at the other end and just like that, it was a one-possession game with 20 seconds to play.

Oberlin fouled Garrett Collier, letting just two seconds elapse from the game clock and Collier missed the pair.  With a chance to tie the game, Collier made up for his miscue at the line, stealing the ball from Nathan Cohen with less than 10 seconds to play.  After the steal, Collier got out on the fastbreak but his layup attempt missed the mark.  Oberlin's Joshua Friedkin got the rebound and was fouled by Devon Pitts.  Friedkin made the first and missed the second one intentionally.  Pitts was there for the rebound and was quickly fouled.  Leading by two with just over two seconds to play, Pitts made the first and missed the second allowing Poyle to offer a desperation heave from beyond midcourt.  His shot was wide left, allowing Denison to escape with the 72-69 win.

Denison had been an excellent 3-point and free throw shooting team all season but their magic touch was not there on this night.  They were 11-of-19 from the charity stripe and shot 21 percent from long range.  The Big Red's low post presence of Speelman and Woolard combined for 36 points as Speelman led with 19 and Woolard followed with 17.

Pitts scored six points but finished with a season-high 11 rebounds in 30 minutes.  Vernasco also gave DU some inspired play off the bench, scoring seven points while adding six boards in 12 minutes.

Poyle led Oberlin (1-6, 0-2 NCAC) with 23 points, going 7-of-9 from the field.  Nathan Cohen chipped in 13 points.

Denison moves to 7-0 overall and 3-0 in the North Coast Athletic Conference.  The Big Red will travel to Wittenberg on Saturday, Dec. 10 for a 3 p.m. tipoff against the Tigers.

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