BEREA – For the first time since 2007, the Wilmington College women's basketball team will be playing for an Ohio Athletic Conference championship.
The third seeded Fightin' Quakers used runs at the end of the second and third period to push past Baldwin Wallace, the tournament's second seed, 62-59, Thursday in the semifinals of the OAC tournament at Ursprung Gymnasium.
Wilmington travels to top-ranked and unbeaten Ohio Northern 3 p.m. Saturday for the championship. The Polar Bears claimed both meetings this season, winning in Ada 78-51 and claimed the 62-61 overtime victory in Wilmington.
"We got off to a good start, which was a good thing," said Wilmington head coach Jerry Scheve. "We had some traffic problems, and got there a little late, so it was good for us to get a good start.
"Baldwin Wallace took control in the second quarter, and then it became the Savannah Hooper show," Scheve continued.
Junior Savannah Hooper (Leesburg, OH/Wilmington) hit back-to-back three-pointers in scoring the final eight points of the second quarter as Wilmington turned a 10-point deficit into a three-point lead on the strength of a 15-2 run.
"She shot us back into the game and gave us the momentum going into the second half," said Scheve. "That was all Savannah Hooper time. She played with reckless abandon at the end of the first half and did what we needed to get us back in the game. She was the difference in the game."
Baldwin Wallace reclaimed its lead early in the third quarter by scoring nine of 11 point, and with 4:33 remaining in the period – the Yellow Jackets led by four. Once again, Hooper got the Fightin' Quakers going.
Her long-range bomb got the rally going, and four different players – junior Emily Harman (Versailles, OH/Versailles), senior Ashley Andracki (Columbus, OH/Bishop Watterson), senior Mary Moyer (Martinsville, OH/Clinton Massie) and sophomore Mackenzie Campbell (Cincinnati, OH/Turpin) - contributed points as WC led by four headed into final 10-minute segment.
Wilmington's lead grew to as much as nine with seven minutes remaining, and stayed around the nine-point mark with 4:31 remaining.
Both teams became stagnant for the next three minutes. The Yellow Jackets were 0-for-3 with two turnovers, while Wilmington missed its only attempt and turned the ball over four times.
"We started playing the clock as much as Baldwin Wallace," said Scheve.
Back-to-back triples by BW pulled the home team to within one possession with 1:02 remaining. Wilmington didn't allow another good look, and made 3-of-4 from the foul line to seal the win.
Hooper led the team with 15 points on 4-of-9 shooting, including 4-of-7 from three-point range, while Campbell added 13 points, three rebounds and two assists.
Moyer continued to be Wilmington defensive force, pulling down 14 rebounds – 10 defensive.
"She did what she needed to do. She had a typical Mary Moyer game," said Scheve. "She dominated the boards and played good defense."