Men finding end of season a ‘slow grind’

The Baldwin Wallace University men’s basketball season is winding down.

With only two games remaining in the regular season, the team has an overall record of 15-8 and an Ohio Athletic Conference mark of 9-7, currently fifth in the standings.

The season has been a “slow grind,” said Academic All-OAC and All-OAC senior guard Jay Battle, who tied his career-high of 31 points against Capital University on Feb. 9,

“There has been many highs, not as many lows, but overall everyday we have tried to remain humble and focus on one day at a time,” said Battle. “We have won tough games and unfortunately lost some tough ones. Regardless of the results, we have competed night in and night out and that’s what I’m most proud of.”

After posting three straight conference wins over Heidelberg University, Muskingum University and Ohio Northern University, the team has gone 1-2 over their last three games.

In the 33rd Annual Al Sirot Grotto Game on Feb. 2, BW took a tough loss versus Wilmington.

Senior forward Kyle Nader received MVP honors after registering a career-best 18 points and Battle continued to climb the all-time scoring leader list, this time jumping to No. 17 after scoring 16 points.

Four days later, BW welcomed cross-town rival John Carroll University in a conference clash. The game was delayed thanks to the Blue Streaks pre-game warm-up which forced the rim inside Ursprung Gymnasium to become bent and uneven.

The game tipped off right before 8 p.m. once a new rim was installed and BW jumped out to an early 50-30 halftime lead. JCU was able to cut the game to single digits after going on a 14-4 run with a little over 10 minutes remaining in the game.

Ultimately, BW held on for a 93-83 bounce back victory and swept the season series against JCU. In the matchup, Battle led all scores with 19 and again climbed the all-time scoring list, settling into the No. 16 spot.

Nader continued his hot streak with 16 points and seven rebounds.

In their latest game on Feb. 9, the Yellow Jackets traveled to Bexley to face the No. 21 nationally-ranked Capital University Crusaders, who sit at the top of the OAC.

In the five-point loss, Battle tied his career-high with 31 points and Tyler Colombo tallied 13. In the final minute of the game, BW cut the Crusader lead to just four points but was unable to get over the hump.

With two games remaining, BW will not know who they will take on in the first round of the conference tournament.

Last season, the team was able to beat Mount Union in the quarterfinals before losing to John Carroll in the next round.

Although they don’t know their opponent yet, the team feels as though their regular season experiences will give them a chance to get the job done and earn an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament.

“We know every team in the league, and at this point it’s about us,” said Battle. “Staying fresh, taking care of ourselves mentally and physically and sharpening up all of the small habits. We do that, we will be successful.”

Senior Night will be Feb. 13 at home and the team will close out the season on the road at Otterbein on Feb. 16.