The Titans twice rallied from 11-point deficits, but couldn't pull ahead.
By BILL ALBRIGHT
NEW WILMINGTON -- Thiel College's men's basketball team proved two things in its rematch with Westminster -- persistence does pay off and the third time can be the charm.
After building up 11-point leads twice only to see them evaporate into ties, the Tomcats took care of business down the stretch, posting a 78-74 win over the Titans Saturday at Buzz Ridl Gymnasium.
"We preach to our kids all the time to never quit," said Thiel coach Mike Snell. "Whether you are up or down, it just seems like there is no such thing as a safe lead any more."
Back and forth
After the two teams were only separated by a point six minutes into the game, the Tomcats went to work on the offensive end to build up an 11-point lead (29-18) with seven minutes remaining in the first half.
But the Titans outscored their guests by a 17-6 margin in the last six minutes of the half for a 35-all tie at the break.
The Tomcats went on another run to open the second half, outscoring the Titans by a 23-12 margin to take a 58-47 lead with 11 minutes remaining.
But just as they had done in the first half, the Titans battled back to tie the game at 59 with seven minutes left.
That is when the Tomcats, led by former Boardman standout A.H. Davis with seven of his 13 points, pulled away to their win.
"The biggest thing with him [Davis] is that we need his leadership on the floor," said Snell. "Even if he is not scoring, he is our leader out there. He is a very smart player out there on the floor, and he would never come out of a game if he didn't have to, but today, I thought down the stretch was a good time to give him a 'blow' because he is actually hobbling on a sore ankle."
"My jump shot wasn't on tonight so I tried to do some other things," said Davis. "I tried to do more on the boards and get my teammates involved. Mike Banach [20 points and seven assists] had a great game and Shane Manley [three 3s and 16 points] was hitting from the outside so as long as we get the win, it really doesn't matter to me what numbers I have."
Banach led all scorers, while Westminster's Pat O'Connor, on the strength of five 3-pointers, finished with 19. Titans center Greg Foster (Ursuline) had a double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds.