OWENSBORO, KY. (WFIE) - The Kentucky Wesleyan College men’s basketball team showed a balanced, team effort on Thursday night. Wesleyan got a boost off the bench as Stew Currie provided a double-double while Zach Hopewell notched 17 points. The Panthers opened the Great Midwest Conference season with a 74-66 win over Ohio Dominican in overtime.
Ohio Dominican (3-6, 0-1 G-MAC) may have entered the contest with a losing record, but the losses were within two possession and all to programs that are off to a torrid start. Midway through the opening half the Panthers (2-5, 1-0 GMAC) were knotted at 20. Zach Hopewell ignited a rally by getting to the rim for a lay-up thereafter.
The Panthers defense picked-up over the final nine minutes, limiting ODU to four points. Wesleyan ended the frame on a 14-4 run while Dominican was restricted to one field goal in that same time.
After shooting 37% from the field in the first half, ODU came out of the locker-room looking to close the 34-24 gap. Through the first 10 minutes Dominican had erased the deficit, taking a 41-38 lead. ODU embarked on a 17-4 run before Wesleyan slowed the pace by getting to the basket and drawing fouls.
Every time the Panthers tried to pull away Dominican had an answer. Wyatt Battaile buried a three-point basket with five minutes left, giving the Panthers a 54-50 edge, but a three-point play on the other end of the floor returned the contest to a one-point margin. At 3:33 Hopewell connected a three-point basket and was fouled in the process. The four-point play was answered immediately by Michael Scott and his three-point basket on the next possession.
With 96 seconds left in the game the Panthers held a 62-58 lead, but Hasan Varence stepped back for a long three with 19 seconds left, closing the gap to one point, 62-61. Jo Griffin was fouled on the ensuing possession and spilt a pair from the line. Dominican went right to the basket, drawing a foul with two seconds left. Arius Jones made both, tying the game at 63 and forcing overtime.
The extra period was all Wesleyan as Hopewell and Griffin each knocked-down baskets to build a two-possession lead. Currie later made a pair of free throws to build a six-point lead with two minutes left. The Panthers continued to contest shots, as Dominican struggled in overtime. ODU went one for seven from the field and one for three from the free throw line in the extra period.
Currie finished the game with 11 points and 11 rebounds, both career highs. Griffin also finished with 11 points while Hopewell recorded a team-high 17 points. Adam Goetz added 15 points, six rebounds, four assists, and three steals. Altogether the Panthers committed eight turnovers on the night while forcing 17. Wesleyan also held a 38-14 advantage in bench points.
The Panthers will host Tiffin University on Saturday. Tip-off at The Sportscenter is scheduled for 2:15 pm CT.