Wayland Baptist threw a scare into 19th-ranked Texas Wesleyan, but the Pioneers weren’t able to fully complete a comeback attempt as the Rams posted an 88-81 win in Sooner Athletic Conference play Thursday night in Hutcherson Center.
The Pioneers (15-5, 6-5 SAC) led just once in the game, at 2-1, and it was tied at 19 before the Rams (15-5, 8-3) went ahead for good. Texas Wesleyan led by 14, 45-31, at halftime, but Wayland gradually trimmed it to just two, 53-51, on a 3-point play by Jack Nobles that capped a 9-0 run with 12½ minutes remaining.
But the Rams never relinquished the lead, and after immediately stretching the margin back out to seven, Wayland never got closer than four after that.
The Rams were up 12, 83-71, with 2:18 to play, although the Pioneers scored five straight to cut it to seven. Wesleyan clinched it at the free-throw line where the Rams hit 5-of-6 in the final 36 seconds.
Wayland had no answer for the tandem of Joe Cook-Green, senior sharp shooter from New Zealand, and Akeem White, an athletic 6-foot-7 junior from New York. Both Cook-Green, who missed only one of his 11 field goals, and White finished with 24 points apiece off the bench. Sebastian Karwoski added a dozen while Sam Lorenzen and Davon Berry got 10 each.
Wayland was led by Tre Fillmore with 18, including 4-of-8 3-pointers. J.J. Culver contributed 16, Jack Nobles 12 and C.J. Obinwa 11. Jibrael Washington pulled down a team-high nine rebounds, an area where the Rams held a decisive 41-24 advantage.
Wesleyan, which defeated Wayland 97-50 when the teams met Jan. 4 in Fort Worth, shot 62 percent from the field in the first half and wound up at 55 percent (31-of-56), including 5-of-12 from long range. Wayland shot 48 percent overall, including 8-of-21 (38 percent) from beyond the arc.
The visitors outscored Wayland by 10 at the free-throw line, hitting 21-of-31 compared to 11-of-16 for the Pioneers.
WBU is back in the Hutch for another tough contest at 3:45 p.m. Saturday against No. 22 Southwestern Assemblies of God University (16-3, 8-3), which took out Oklahoma-Panhandle State on Thursday, 98-64. The Pioneers will be looking to avenge a 90-60 loss to the Lions when they met up in Waxahachie.
Courtesy of Wayland Baptist Athletics Communications Department