ALLIANCE, Ohio – Senior two-time All-Ohio Athletic Conference and Academic All-OAC guard Jay Battle (Gahanna/ Lincoln) scored a career-high 33 points and made 7-of-8 three-pointers as the fifth-seeded Baldwin Wallace University men's basketball team defeated No.2-seeded University of Mount Union, 79-75, inside the McPherson Academic and Athletic Center in the OAC Tournament Championship Game.
BW (20-8 overall), who secures its fifth OAC Tournament title and first since 2006, is now is now 11-3 against Mount Union in the post-season. Battle, who also had two rebounds and two assists, was named the tournament Most Valuable Player. He was joined on the OAC all-tournament team by junior forward Tyler Colombo (Strasburg/ Tuscarawas Central Catholic), who recorded his second double-double of the season with 10 points and 11 rebounds. In addition, senior guard/ forward Kyle Nader (Vermilion) pitched in 11 points, six rebounds, two assists and one steal, and sophomore guard Luke Schaefer (Medina) had 10 points and four steals.
The Purple Raiders (22-6) had four players in double-figures, led by senior Diallo Niamke who tallied 21 points. Junior guard D'Vontay Friga chipped in with 18, junior guard Nathan Bower-Malone recorded 11 and senior guard Tommy Stenger had 10.
Mount Union was first on the board with a layup from Friga and BW quickly responded with a Schaefer three on its next possession at 19:29. Battle drilled a trey at 17:54 to extend the Yellow Jacket lead to 6-2 and the Purple Raiders went on an 8-0 run to bring the score to 10-6 with 15:39 left in the first. BW regained the lead of 11-10 off a Battle jump shot at 14:38, before the teams would knot things up at 13-13. Over the next five minutes, BW increased their lead to 25-19 after a 12-6 run, capped off with a Schaefer layup. Mount Union trim the lead to 30-29 at 3:54 with a 10-5 spurt, before BW closed the half on an 8-5 run of its own and went into halftime with a 38-35 advantage.
The Purple Raiders took a lead of 48-41 after a 13-3 run to open the second half, capped off with a Bower-Malone jumper at 16:20. The Yellow Jackets battled back with a 14-6 run of their own to take a 55-54 lead at 12:31, after a layup from junior Academic All-OAC guard Michael Quiring (Brunswick). Mount Union retaliated by trading baskets with BW, slowly trimming the lead and tying the game up at 63 apiece with just over seven minutes left in regulation. The Purple Raiders grabbed a 65-63 advantage after two Bower-Malone free throws, before the Yellow Jackets responded with a 7-0 spurt to give them a 70-65 lead at 5:22. The Purple Raiders immediately called a timeout 5:22, and scored with a Niamke layup on their next possession. Nearly two-thirty would pass before a Stenger trey knotted the game up at 70-70. Mount Union took the lead on a free-throw before Schaefer drove and scored on a layup, assisted by Battle, bringing the score to 72-71. The final minutes came down to free-throws as BW knocked down five of their last eight to seal the 79-75 championship victory.
The Yellow Jackets have punched their ticket to the 64-team NCAA Division lll Tournament that begins next Friday, March 1. The selections will be announced at 1 p.m on Monday at NCAA.com.