DEFIANCE, Ohio – Junior Elijah Wilson-Thomas scored 29 points fueling a comeback from 17 points down as the Earlham College men's basketball team escaped with a 74-72 win over Defiance College on Wednesday evening.
Earlham took an early 10-4 lead using baskets from four different players. Defiance answered with a 23-9 run over the next nine minutes capped by a three-pointer from Michael Parker.
Trailing 27-19, the Quakers got within three points (30-27) on triples from junior Elijah Wilson-Thomas and freshman Blake Bonin and a layup from freshman Kenneth Stalling Jr. Once again, the Yellow Jackets responded with a run, scoring 19 points to Earlham's eight over the final five minutes of the first half.
The Yellow Jackets maintained a double-digit lead early in the second half after a Randall Aikins Jr. layup made the score 57-43 with 16:19 to play in regulation. The Quakers then stiffened on defense, allowing just two points over the next six minutes. A layup from Wilson-Thomas at the 10:25 mark gave Earlham its first lead of the period.
The final ten minutes were played within an eight-point window as Defiance led by as many as three and Earlham by five on several occasions. A layup from freshman Blake Bonin gave the Quakers a 74-69 edge, but the Yellow Jackets answered with a Michael Parker triple to cut the lead to two points (74-72).
After a stop, Defiance had a chance to win it, but Wilson-Thomas blocked Parker's potential game-winning three to give Earlham the victory, marking the first time the program has beaten Defiance since joining the HCAC prior to the 2010-11 season.
Along with Wilson-Thomas's 29 points, Bonin was the other Quaker to finish in double figures with 14 points while also dishing out four assists. Seniors Lajay Kelly and Kamari Hunter also talled four assists.
Parker led Defiance with 24 points in defeat.
The Quakers shot 52.8 percent (28-52) from the field, marking their highest field goal percentage in a game this season. The Yellow Jackets also made 28 field goals, but on 72 shot attempts for 38.9 percent.
Both teams made seven free throws, but 11 of Earlham's field goals were from three-point range compared to nine for Defiance.
The win puts the Quakers at 6-14 overall, marking the first time since the 2006-07 season (8-18) that Earlham has won more than five games.
The Quakers look for a seventh win at Anderson University on Saturday. Tip-off is slated for 3 p.m.