OBERLIN — With the team with the best record in the Stars Division coming to town Tuesday night, Oberlin knew it would be in for a fight.
After nursing a one-point halftime lead over Buckeye, the Phoenix rose to the challenge and made a nice statement within the Patriot Athletic Conference.
Oberlin, second in the Stripes Division, continued its red-hot play of late with a 36-point second-half surge that propelled it to a 61-50 PAC crossover victory.
Oberlin improved to 9-5, 7-2 in the PAC, while Buckeye fell to 9-5, 6-3.
“(Buckeye) came in here first place on their side, and they’re a very well-coached team and a very tough team to beat,” Oberlin coach Kurt Russell said. “They’re probably one of the better teams we’ve played, thus far. With their inside game and outside game, this game could have gone either way.
“Luckily, we had a little run there — especially in that second half — and came away with the victory.”
Buckeye used a 6-0 run to start the second quarter to kick-start a 16-point effort that cut Oberlin’s lead to 25-24. In fact, a layup with just over five seconds left by Jason Moore — who led the Phoenix with 17 points and 11 rebounds — gave the Phoenix the one-point halftime lead.
After a Jeff Miller layup to start the third quarter gave the Bucks a 26-25 lead, it was all Phoenix.
A 14-4 run by Oberlin, keyed by a pair of free throws and a huge putback by DaShaun Horton, made it a 39-30 lead with the Phoenix in control. The Phoenix put away the game with a 14-7 run to start the fourth quarter.
“We were very pleased with the way we played in the second half,” Russell said. “The first half was a little slow and a little lethargic. DeShaun Horton was the only one who was really playing hard that first half. Before the second half, we challenged the kids to really step it up, and I thought they really did a good job of doing so.
“It was just effort. Something as small as effort can go a long way. We thought we weren’t putting forth the effort that we should have (in the second quarter). When we started playing harder in the second half, we started to swing the momentum our way and we kept it on our side.”
Horton was one of three Phoenix players in double figures, going 4-of-7 from the floor for 12 points. Marcus Bailey added 12 points and nine rebounds.
“We didn’t come out the way we wanted to at first,” said Moore, who scored eight of his 17 in the second half. “But once the game started going and we started getting into our flow and played how we’re supposed to, things started to go in our favor.
“The game was closer than we liked, but we had been in this position before and we know what could happen. We knew we all had to step it up if we wanted the outcome to be in our favor. We had to pick up our energy, pick up our hustle and execute way better.”
Oberlin outrebounded Buckeye 35-30, including a 19-15 second-half advantage, while forcing 23 turnovers.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed,” Buckeye coach Matt Saunders said. “I thought that Oberlin played well. They were extremely aggressive. They turned us over a lot in the second half, and we weren’t strong with the ball in those situations. I’m a little disappointed the way we finished. I thought we missed a lot of makeable shots.
“You have to give them credit. They played great. Their kids were aggressive. They were definitely the aggressors during the game. I think they wanted it a little bit more than our kids did.”
Garrett Beck’s 16 points and eight rebounds led the way for the Bucks.
Oberlin 61, Buckeye 50
BUCKEYE (50): Garrett Beck 6-2-16, Jeff Miller 5-2-12, Cory Inman 3-0-8, Ryan Grauel 3-0-6, Matt Cox 2-0-4, Mike Bacho 1-0-2, Chris Vogt 1-0-2, Curtis Kinney 0-0-0. John Tighe 0-0-0, Nick Prest 0-0-0. Totals 21-4-50.
OBERLIN (61): Jason Moore 7-2-17, Marcus Bailey 5-2-12, DaShaun Horton 4-2-12, Noland Isom 4-0-8, Charles Lewis 2-0-4, Demonte Taborn 2-2-6, Marvin Jackson 1-0-2, Devante Hougland 0-0-0, Ayo Coleman 0-0-0. Totals 25-8-61.
Buckeye 8 16 10 16 — 50
Oberlin 15 10 16 20 — 61
Three-point goals: Buckeye 4-15 (Beck 2, Inman 2), Oberlin 3-11 (Horton 2, Moore); Field goals: Buckeye 21-48 (44 percent), Oberlin 25-60 (42 percent); Free throws: Buckeye 4-8 (50 percent), Oberlin 8-10 (80 percent); Rebounds: Buckeye 30 (Beck 8, Miller 8), Oberlin 35 (Moore 11, Bailey 9); Turnovers: Buckeye 23, Oberlin 18; Total fouls: Buckeye 15, Oberlin 10.
Junior varsity: Buckeye, 67-51.
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.