Tough as it may be to imagine a Division III game that feels like it's being played in March, that's the kind of game that Goucher and Wooster played last night.
Behind 17 points from Bakari Ward and 13 from Mike Doyle, Goucher (7-2) defeated the Scots, 67-62, in a match where the intensity belied the sparse inter-semester crowd of 275 at the Sports and Recreation Center.
"It definitely seemed like a tournament atmosphere," said Gophers coach Leonard Trevino, whose team had 26 points off 22 Wooster turnovers. "Both teams had been looking to this game for quite awhile."
A three-point play by Doyle with 1: 30 remaining gave a 63-60 lead to Goucher, which let a 16-point first-half lead fritter away before pulling itself together over the game's final seven minutes.
By beating Wooster (7-2) -- No. 5 nationally in the Columbus Multimedia poll -- the Gophers logged their third win over a ranked opponent after victories over Franklin & Marshall and Christopher Newport. For the regionally ranked team, it also removed the bad taste from a loss at Gettysburg on Friday.
As soon as the bus returned to the Towson campus, the Gophers held a players-only meeting that apparently produced results as they opened last night's game by hounding the Scots into 13 first-half turnovers and taking a 25-9 lead 8: 55 before halftime.
"That was the worst the team had played in two years," Trevino said of the Gettysburg game. "They guys screamed at each other; they said that this was unacceptable."
But Wooster, eight hours from its Ohio home, clawed back to close the gap to 36-29 at halftime and, after holding Goucher without a field goal for nearly 10 minutes, took a 42-41 lead on a three-pointer by Steve Thompson with 11: 30 left in the game.
From there, the lead changed six times, with Darrian Lee giving Goucher a 60-59 edge with two free throws at the 3: 34 mark. Thompson tied the game 20 seconds later, setting up Doyle's game-winning shot.
Wooster had its opportunities in the final two minutes, but the team -- led by 14 points by Ryan Gorman and 13 points from Thompson -- missed two layups and both of its free-throw attempts.
"It was a close game at that point and they made some plays that we didn't make," Wooster coach Steve Moore said. "It was a tight battle and they won that battle in the end."
Pub Date: 12/22/98