Men’s basketball falls to Wooster, season recap


Sami Mirza

Forward Caden Hinckley, ’23, battle for the ball against Wooster forward Turner Kurt on Feb. 19 in the James H. Mullen arena.

Editor’s Note: This story was written after the Allegheny men’s basketball v. Denison regular-season game on Saturday, Feb. 19. The Gators fell to Wooster 86-79 Tuesday, Feb. 22, in the North Coast Athletic Conference quarterfinals. Allegheny finished the season 8-14.

The Allegheny men’s basketball team is heading to the postseason after closing out their regular season in a loss to Denison on senior night, falling 56-72. The team finished 8-13, snagging hold of the 7th seed in the battle-hardened NCAC conference. They face off in the opening round against the College of Wooster, ranking second in the conference.

“We understand what we need to do,” point guard Brian Roberts Jr., ’22, said. “We understand we had a hard loss to Denison, but the goal is about winning the next game. It’s win or go home, we just have to be better for 40 minutes.”

The senior out of Copley, Ohio has been a menace for opposing defenses all season. Finishing second in points per game in the NCAC conference, Roberts was dropping buckets left and right averaging just under 23 each contest. It was his best scoring season while in a white and gold uniform, all under the reins of head coach Bob Simmons.

“To watch Brian grow mentally, academically, as well as athletically has really been awesome to be a part of,” Simmons said.

Simmons explained that Roberts’s ability to get to the basket at will and his competitive banter were some of his most attractive features while being recruited, as Simmons liked his edge.

Filling out the five in addition to being another spectacular player for the Gators offense was center Caden Hinckley, ’23. Hinckley’s large frame at six-foot eight-inches, 210 pounds allowed him to average slightly more than a double-double this season, finishing the year with 15.1 points per game along with being the top rebounder in the conference with 11.1 boards per outing. Hinck- ley’s low post maneuvers and punishing finishes gave the Gators a great piece at the big man position with lots of highlights. His defense is not to be overlooked either, as the junior averaged more than three blocks per game, and was a presence not to be messed with on the floor.

“I didn’t really play basketball much until high school,” Hinckley said.

After hitting a growth spurt during his tenure at Mount Lebanon High School, Hinckley decided to give hoops a try.

“With practice and game time you get used to what works and what doesn’t work, and how to use your size,” Hinckley said.

The Gators got off to a slow start during the Feb. 8 Wooster game, falling behind early in the first half. Then

Mr. Clutch came to the rescue and Roberts exploded for 26 points, shooting 7 of 15 from the field, including a pair of three-pointers, and a perfect 10 for 10 from the free-throw line.

Roberts was able to close the deficit for the Gators to-ward the end of the first half, and the entire Gators unit exploded to start the second half, running away with the game and securing a statement victory in their own building. It was the first time Wooster had lost in James H. Mullen arena in 25 years.

For the third season in a row, Allegheny has made the conference tournament — disregarding the shortened season last year where there were no playoffs. Also for the third season in a row, their first playoff game will be against Wooster. Falling to the Fighting Scots in the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons, the team is hoping for a different outcome in the third edition of the saga. Coach Simmons says his guys have the experience in this kind of atmosphere and will look to rely on the core of the group to band together and fight for a win. The game takes place at Wooster on Tuesday, Feb. 22.

With a win on Tuesday, it would mark the college’s first playoff victory in over a decade, dating back to when Allegheny took down Ohio Wesleyan 78-75 in overtime Feb. 24, 2009, in the quarterfinal round of the NCAC tournament. Their last playoff win also represents the only time a 7 seed has taken down the 2 seed in the NCAC playoffs.