With the win, the Phoenix improve to 6-12 on the year, and 6-8 in the Patriot Athletic Conference, while the Dukes drop to 10-10 and 7-7 in league play.
“I thought we played well,” Oberlin head basketball coach Kurt Russell said. “I thought we played hard and I think everyone contributed tonight. We needed a big win against a very good Wellington team, and we preached that in practice this week and I thought we did a nice job of executing that tonight.”
Oberlin throughout the game never lost a quarter, shooting 17-of-36 from the field despite Wellington, who went 18-of-28. The Dukes went 7-of-17 from the free throw line compared to the Phoenix, who shot a tick better, going 14-of-26.
“I give Oberlin credit, they played hard tonight,” Wellington head basketball coach Dan Gudert said. “There was no execution and we’ll take the blame for that I guess as coaches. We have to be able to execute. We couldn’t pass, we couldn’t shoot, we couldn’t dribble, I mean we couldn’t do anything. There was a three-minute stretch where we couldn’t do anything, and a lot of those plays just comes down to effort and heart and it was another night that was disappointing on the home deck for sure.”
As for Oberlin, they battled with foul trouble in the first half racking up a total of 11 fouls, despite going into halftime with a, 30-25, lead, while shooting 10-of-23 from the field.
“We have confidence in all of our players,” Russell said. “I thought David Hopkins came in and spelled his brother and did a nice job. We’re a little thin, as we have three of our main guys in our rotation out, so that really hurts us a little bit, especially with our guards. However, I thought everyone that played tonight did an excellent job.”
The Achilles Heel all game long for the Phoenix was their guard play, as freshman Andre Yaber led all players in the game with 23 points followed by sophomore Giles Harrell with 10 points and Mikah Jones-Smith with eight.
“Andre, Giles, and Mikah Smith played really well,” Russell said. “They did a nice job of executing what we wanted to do. Defensively, I thought they did a wonderful job and I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
Rebounding proved to be another key component for Oberlin, as they hauled in a total of 24 rebounds, with 16 of those coming in the first half.
“That’s been one of our dilemmas all season,” Russell said about the team’s rebounding. “I thought tonight we really concentrated on the boards and I thought we did a nice job of boxing out. I thought we had the size advantage a little bit, and that really helped us tonight.”
Meanwhile, Wellington seemed to be having trouble with boxing out and fighting for rebounds all game long, as they picked up a total of 22, only nine of them coming in the second half.
“Our plan was to come out and go 1-2-2, and play that,” Gudert said. “Then early on they’re getting offensive rebounds so we switch to our man, which wasn’t our strength against that team, but it just so we could have matchups against them and that wasn’t working either. I’m a big believer that rebounding is all heart, and you have to make that play.”
Leading the way on offense for the Dukes was senior Ryan Whitaker with 18 points followed by a double-double from junior Noah Diermyer with 10 and 10.
However, despite just two games remaining in the regular season for the Dukes, they look to finish off strong heading into the playoffs but have lost four of their last seven games.
“We talked and this is big-time gut check time at this point in the season,” Gudert said. “We have to games left and they’re not going to get any easier and you know we have to look in the mirror and get better. Some teams are where they want to be, come tournament time, but we are definitely not, so we have to get better. A lot of this, and this is what we’re trying to preach to our kids is that a lot of it is Wednesday, Thursday stuff and following the scouting report and preparing to win. You can’t just put a jersey on and expect to win.”