OXFORD, OH - Back to back three-pointers from junior R.J. Leppert and senior Klarke Ransome turned a five-point deficit into a one-point lead that became a 65-63 victory over Division I Miami University Saturday at Millett Hall.
"For a regular season game, it has to be one of the biggest wins in school history," said head coach K.C. Hunt. "It has to be right up there with our NCAA tournament victory."
The three's capped a 16-3 run by Wilmington over a seven-minute stretch late in the second half. The Fightin' Quakers trailed by 12 with 8:50 remaining in game. Junior Taylor Wellman (Norwood, OH/Norwood) started the trek back with back-to-back three-pointers, and then Leppert (Liberty Township, OH/Lakota East) tallied the next four points to pull WC to within three with 5:28 left.
A Miami basket temporarily stemmed the tide before Leppert and Ransome (Richwood, OH/North Union) gave Wilmington a lead it wouldn't relinquish.
"We talked throughout the game in playing in four minute segments that we called four-minute wars," said Hunt. "We wanted to win as many four-minute wars as we can. Our players never looked at the score. We just kept battling. It was a great victory for Wilmington College."
It's the first win in 14 chances for the Fightin' Quakers, and Wilmington improves to 1-1 on the season. Miami falls to 0-4.
Long range shooting and sharing the ball enabled Wilmington to overcome statistics that usually equals a loss. WC was out-rebounded, 53-35, and had the RedHawks convert more free throws (14) then it attempted (six).
Wilmington was 14-of-27 from beyond the arc with the trio of Leppert (Liberty Township, OH/Lakota East), Wellman and junior Dwight Johnson (Dayton, OH/Jefferson) combining to make 9-of-10 from three-point range.
Of the Fightin' Quakers' 24 baskets, they had 18 assists with Johnson distributing a team-high five.
"We have a real unselfish team," said Hunt. "We share the ball well, and we have players willing to sacrifice for the betterment of the team."
Miami scored the first eight points of the game, and pushed the lead to 11 before Wilmington got its footing. They pulled to within five, but the RedHawks quickly built their advantage to 15. The lead hovered around 15 until Wilmington scored 13 straight to force the game's first tie. Four different players found the scorebook during the spurt, however, Miami scored to take a two-point lead into the locker room.
The Fightin' Quakers scored the first four points of the second half to take the first lead of the game. The lead changed hands five times in the second half, the last giving Wilmington the victory.
Leppert recorded his first double-double of the season with 23 points and 13 rebounds, while adding four assists and four steals.
"R.J. has some great performances his freshman year, but today was just a phenomenal performance by him. His energy and toughness was off the charts."
Johnson had 12 points to go along with his five dimes. Senior Malcolm Heard II (Wilmington, OH/Wilmington) recorded seven boards for WC.
Wilmington returns to the court 7:30 p.m. Tuesday with its first home game of the season, hosting Thomas More.