WESTERVILLE – Junior Christian Jones scored Wilmington's final seven points as the Fightin' Quakers held off a late charge from Otterbein, and WC completed the season sweep of the Cardinals with a 87-84 Ohio Athletic Conference win at the Rike Center.
"Christian was special down the stretch, hitting shot after shot and hitting his free throws," said Wilmington head coach K.C. Hunt. "He was good in general tonight
"Unfortunately, we had four times this season in which we led with under two minutes and we lost all four," Hunt continued. "Tonight was five, and we made the plays when it mattered. This team wants to keep playing basketball and to do that, we have to keep winning. Our guys owned it, and played with a little swagger tonight."
Wilmington is currently 4-11 in the OAC, one game behind Heidelberg and Baldwin Wallace for the final two spots in the postseason tournament. Heidelberg holds the tiebreaker via its season sweep. The Fightin' Quakers hosts league-leading Marietta 3 p.m. Saturday before ending the season at Capital and home with BW.
Otterbein, which had trailed by 14 points, had a furious rally that pulled the Cardinals to one with 90 seconds left.
However, Jones (Hamilton, OH/Hamilton) went to work to bring the victory home. He stemmed the tide with a pair of free throws, and then drilled a three-pointer for a four-point lead. The lanky shooter iced the win by drilling two free throws with eight seconds remaining.
Jones was in the middle of a 19-4 run that enabled Wilmington build the hefty lead as he scored the final eight points of the spurt. Five other Fightin' Quakers found the scoresheet in the beginning of the game-defining stretch.
"We had our moments to take control and pull away," said Hunt. "But we had to grind it out down the stretch, and it was good for our young basketball team. Anytime you can win on the road, it's a good win."
The first half nearly a mirror image of the second as Wilmington built a healthy lead. And much like the second half, Otterbein went on a run to get back in the game, but this time, the Cardinals took a three-point lead with less than a minute in the half.
Sophomore Will Patrick (Chester, PA/Pickerington Central [OH]) sent the game into the locker room knotted at 41 with his buzzer beating three. Patrick finished with a career-high 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting, including all four of his long-range attempts.
Jones finished with a team-high 21 points, reaching double figures for the fifth time in the last six games. It was the third time this year Jones has eclipsed the 20-point mark.