OBERLIN, Ohio – The Earlham College basketball team got a stop on the final possession to secure a 72-71 victory over Franciscan University (Ohio) in a back-and-forth contest played at Oberlin College on Saturday afternoon.
The entire game was played within a 10-point window as both Earlham and Franciscan held 5-point leads at times.
The Quakers opened up their first 5-point edge six minutes into the game on a put-back layup from Elijah Wilson-Thomas to give Earlham a 14-9 lead. A 9-2 run from the Barons that followed put Franciscan up 18-16 midway through the first half.
The Quakers regained the advantage when Blake Bonin stole a Baron pass and found Tarig Eldosougi for a transition layup with 6:23 to play in the first half. Earlham clung to a small lead over the next four minutes, but a 7-3 run from Franciscan to close the half put the Barons up 36-34 after 20 minutes.
As the second half began, Franciscan gained a 5-point lead of its own when Jacob Divens connected on a layup at the 16:25 mark, making the score 44-39. Earlham's defense answered as it allowed just four points over the next five minutes. Josh York ended the Barons' drought, but a Wilson-Thomas basket put Earlham ahead 54-50 with 11 minutes remaining in regulation.
The lead exchanged hands five more times in the game including the last time when a Wilson-Thomas triple game the Quakers a 68-67 edge with 3:13 to play. Two missed shots from Franciscan and jumpers from Wilson-Thomas and Kenneth Stalling Jr. forced a Baron timeout with the scoreboard reading 72-67 and 2:25 on the clock.
Earlham would not score again, but it wouldn't need to as the Quakers got what proved to be the game-winning stop as Divens' triple try was off the mark as time expired.
Both team shot 43 percent, but the Barons made 32 field goals compared to 26 for the Quakers. Earlham made up the difference at the free throw line, however, converting 16-22 attempts compared to just 4-7 for Franciscan.
Individually, Wilson-Thomas led Earlham with 26 points on 10-15 shooting. Stalling Jr. added eight points and four steals while Eldosougi turned in six points and nine rebounds off the bench.
The Barons were led by the duo of Keoni Sablan and Matt Trent combined for 27 points in defeat.
Earlham improves to 1-1 on the year with the win and face host Oberlin tomorrow (Sunday) at 1 p.m.