Kentucky Wesleyan basketball fans got their first in-person look at the Panthers on Thursday night, and they were treated to an extraordinary shooting exhibition by the home team.
KWC burned the nets at a 66% clip and drained 12-of-18 shots from 3-point range en route to a 91-67 blowout of visiting Tiffin in a Great Midwest Athletic Conference battle at the Sportscenter.
The Panthers improve to 4-2 overall and 3-2 within the G-MAC heading into a 2:15 p.m. clash with visiting league foe Cedarville on Saturday.
“We played as well offensively as we possibly could have played,” Wesleyan head coach Drew Cooper said. “We had good shooting performances all around.
“I thought we were fortunate to keep Tiffin from getting into a rhythm — that was part them and part us, but I thought overall we played very well in this one.”
Sasha Sukhanov scored KWC’s first nine points and helped drive the Panthers to a 23-11 lead in the first seven minutes.
Tiffin responded with its best run of the night — a 17-2 spurt powered by a trio of 3-pointers from Trent Williams. A fastbreak layup by Braxton Foreman pushed the Dragons in front 30-27 at the 6:30 mark.
But KWC had a quick answer, getting a trio of 3-pointers from Jo Griffin and another from Zach Hopewell in a torrid 14-0 spurt, and the Panthers were able to build their advantage to 43-32 by intermission.
“Jo was very timely with his offensive performance in the first half because there was a stretch there where Tiffin couldn’t miss,” Cooper said. “We responded to their big run with a big run of our own, and that was great to see.”
Wesleyan took total command in the first four minutes of the second half, getting seven points from Tre Cobbs in a 12-2 run that stretched the lead to 55-34.
The Panthers twice led by as many as 27 points in the second half and were able to cruise to victory.
KWC placed five players in double-digit scoring, including Cobbs who led the way with 19. Griffin scored 18, going 7-for-7 from the field and making all four of his shots from beyond the arc. Sukhanov went 8-of-10 from the floor and scored 17 points. Hopewell scored 16 and went 4-of-5 from distance, and Jamil Wilson added 10 points.
Hopewell dished seven assists and both Wilson and Cobbs had six. Wyatt Battaile led the way with 10 rebounds and Sukhanov added eight.
The Dragons (2-3, 2-3 G-MAC) got 18 points from Williams, 15 from King, and 14 from Dalaino Walker.
Tiffin shot 42% from the field, including 44% from 3-point range.
The Panthers crushed Tiffin on the glass, outrebounding the visitors by a 32-17 margin.
Williams 18, King 15, Walker 14, Foreman 6, Jordan 5, Turner 3, Johnson 3, Hornbuckle 3.
Cobbs 19, Griffin 18, Sukhanov 17, Hopewell 16, Wilson 10, Battaile 7, Boyle 2, Sisson 2.