|by Brent Harris • January 17, 2007|
All week long Wabash head basketball coach Mac Petty told the media that looking back at the previous games this season was like trying to cash a cancelled check.
Wednesday night his Little Giant team opened a whole new checking account.
Junior forward Andrew Zimmer (right) scored a career-best 35 points to lead Wabash to a 73-57 victory over Earlham College in North Coast Athletic Conference play at Chadwick Court.
Zimmer was nearly perfect from the field, connecting on 11-of-15 shots. He was perfect on four of his three-point attempts, and nearly hit a fifth trey with a three-quarter court shot at the buzzer at the end of the first half. He also grabbed nine rebounds, had three steals, and a blocked shot in the victory.
Both teams got off to a slow start, going scoreless over the first two minutes of play. After trading early baskets, Earlham took a three-point lead on a LaRon Henry three-pointer. Freshman Kyle Schroering answered with a three of his own to tie the game at 8-8. Just over a minute later Schroering gave Wabash the lead for good with another three on the way to career-best 10 points.
Andy Root and Ryan Stephens added back-to-back layups to put the Little Giants in front 15-8. The Quakers scored on three free throws before Zimmer scored two straight layups for four of his 12 first-half points. He added the first of his three-pointers late in the period to put Wabash up nine. The Little Giants would stretch the lead to 13 at the break after Zimmer connected on four free throws at the end of the half.
Earlham turned the ball over to start the final period, then fouled Zimmer as he head toward the basket. He converted both free throws, then scored again when Root stole the ball on the next possession and found Zimmer under the basket. Zimmer scored another three to end a four minute scoring drought by the Little Giants to put then up 13. After the Quakers trimmed the lead to seven points, Schroering added two free throws and Ryan Nuppnau drilled a three to give Wabash a 12-point edge.
Zimmer scored 13 of the next 17 points for the Little Giants, pushing the lead to as many as 19 points. Aaron Brock added two of his eight points to make it a 68-47 advantage for Wabash late in the game, allowing the Little Giants to settle for the 16-point win.
While the Wabash offense was clicking, the defense was holding one of the top scorers in the league in check. Earlham's Markous Jewett entered the contest ranked third in the NCAC with a 17.9 points-per-game scoring average. The Little Giants held him to 11 points on just 3-of-14 shooting from the field. Tristian Gregory led the Quakers with 20 points.
Zimmer's 35 points tie him for the seventh-best effort by a Wabash player in a conference contest. Adonis Joseph '06 scored 35 points last year against Denison University. Joseph now serves as an assistant coach for the Little Giants.
Stephens tallied a career-best 12 rebounds in addition to scoring four points. Junior Earl Rooks handed out six assists in the victory.
Wabash (5-11, 2-5 NCAC) travels to Kenyon College Saturday afternoon for a 3 p.m. contest.