By Pat Jameson
Riding a seven game losing streak, not many people gave last place Allegheny (3-13, 0-9 NCAC) a shot heading into Wednesday’s contest with the College of Wooster (15-1, 9-0 NCAC).
While the Gators’ upset bid ultimately fell short, they battled the second nationally ranked Fighting Scots until the final buzzer, losing by a heartbreaking score of 73-68.
The Allegheny offense has stalled as of late but matched a potent Wooster attack shot for shot during the contest.
Brandon Smith, ’15, led the Gators in scoring, dropping 15 points against a normally stingy Wooster defense.
The Fighting Scots seemingly had no answer for Smith as he dominated in the paint, adding four blocks and seven rebounds.
Ryan Stanko, ’14, and Josh Valentic, ’15, each added 12 points.
Evan Schweitzer,’16, who has emerged as a key player this season, added 10 points of his own.
The score remained close during much of the first, but an Allegheny scoring run in the last five minutes allowed the Gators to take a 34-27 lead into halftime.
The second half was a similar story, as the two teams traded the lead numerous times over the final 15 minutes.
Wooster scored 10 consecutive points with seven minutes left and looked to put Allegheny away before a Valentic free throw and subsequent three pointer sparked the Gators.
The Gators fought back to within seven with 30 seconds remaining but Wooster’s star guard, Doug Thorpe, ’15, nailed four consecutive free throws to seal Allegheny’s fate and end the game at a final score of 73-68.
Thorpe effectively saved the reeling Wooster squad as he erupted for 21 of his game high 26 points in the second half. He was eight for eight on free throws and nailed four shots beyond the arc.
Allegheny looks to snap their losing streak this Saturday at home as they host rival Wittenberg University. Tip-off is at 2 p.m.