Yeomen Defeat Hiram for Spot at NCAC’s

courtesy of Erik Andrews

courtesy of Erik Andrews

Tyler Sloan, Editor in Chief

 The men’s basketball team defeated Hiram College in a stirring turnaround of events, breaking their three–game losing streak last weekend. The Yeomen, now 7–16 overall, secured the final spot in the North Coast Athletic Conference tournament with a decisive victory over the Terriers with a score of 91–79.

Although the first half did not look promising for the Yeomen, who entered the second half of the game down 49–39, the players managed to pull off a crucial comeback with NCAC playoffs on the line. Oberlin dominated both possession and the scoreboard in the second half, trumping Hiram’s 30 points with 52 of its own. Head Coach Isiah Cavaco called the second half fun to watch as the pace increased and Oberlin took control of the court as the game.

“I was happy about the way we handled an early deficit on the road. I was also happy to see the way we continued to shoot the ball with confidence and get rewarded by scoring 52 points in the second half,” Cavaco said.

Senior captain Geoff Simpson led this effort by tallying 33 points and an assist. Simpson, who has been on fire the past few games despite overall poor results, was honored as NCAC Player of the Week on Monday, Feb. 17. In recent games against tough competition such as Denison University and Allegheny College, Simpson put up 28 and 24 points respectively. Both Simpson’s and fellow classmates’ leadership has inspired better play from the Yeomen.

“The seniors really picked up the slack. They picked up their level of play and set an example of how the rest of us should be playing as well,” said second-year center Randy Ollie.

The Yeomen saw a relatively equal distribution of points from other key players as well. Ollie netted 12 points in Saturday’s contest against the Terriers. Teammates Emmanuel Lewis, senior, and first-year Jack Poyle also contributed 12 points each, in what led to the eventual Yeomen victory. Coming off the bench, junior Miles Gueno added 10 to the scoreboard, but he attributed the win to a total team effort.

“The most exciting part [of the game] was the comeback. We had great chemistry together, and the bench really stepped up and made contributions,” Gueno said.

 Last week, the Yeomen only made 60 percent of their free throws against Wittenberg University. The team dramatically improved that percentage by hitting 78.1 percent of their foul shots against Hiram. Capitalizing on those scoring opportunities made all the difference for Oberlin. Even Cavaco credited this as the principal distinction between the two games.

“We had a greater focus on defense, even after Hiram jumped out to an early lead. Most importantly, and it sounds simple, we made shots,” Cavaco said.

Oberlin hosted its final home game on Wednesday, Feb. 19 against second-place Ohio Wesleyan University. The team celebrated Senior Night for the four graduating Yeomen including Simpson, Lewis, Trey Levy and Derrick Sant. The Yeomen will conclude their regular season at The College of Wooster on Saturday, Feb. 22.

“I hope our last game will help remove the invisible lid from our rims here at home. We should feel capable of scoring in our own gym and I hope that carries over from Saturday. I expect OWU [Ohio Wesleyan University] to be very physical, try to push the tempo and mix up their defenses against us,” Cavaco said.