GAMBIER, OHIO -- Junior Myles Copeland (Perrysburg, Ohio/Toledo St. John's) scored a career-high 39 points, but the Trine University men's basketball team was edged by Ohio Wesleyan University, 99-96, in a neutral site game and season opener in Gambier, Ohio.
It was a tale of two halves for the Thunder as they overcame a 16-point deficit (48-32) at halftime to outscore the Battling Bishops, 64-51, in the second period as Trine shot an impressive 71.4 percent (25-of-35) from the field in the final 20 minutes and got to within a point, but would fall short in the end, 99-96.
Copeland scored 32 of his 39 points in the second half and made 16-of-23 attempts (69.6 percent), including seven-of-eight free-throws (87.5 percent). His 16 made field goals were the third most in a game in program history. In addition, Copeland was second on the team in rebounding with seven boards.
Joining Copeland in double figures in points was junior Pete Smith (Bristol, Ind./Northridge) and sophomore Langston Johnson (Elkhart, Ind./Elkhart Central). Pete Smith tallied 19 points and dished out a team-high six assists, while Johnson scored 15 points and had a team-high eight rebounds.
After an opening basket by Trine's Kelham Brown (Huntertown, Ind./Carroll) to begin the game, Ohio Wesleyan (1-0) went on an 8-0 scoring run to take the lead and quickly built a double-digit advantage. The Bishops continued to pull away and built a 21-point margin, 31-10, near the midway point of the first half en route to a large lead of 24 points, 36-12, with 10:28 left before halftime.
Trine (0-1) chipped away at the deficit and got to within 13 points, 40-27, as part of a 15-4 run that ended in one-of-two free-throws by Copeland at the 3:55 mark. OWU slowed the Thunder momentum by extending the margin to a more comfortable 18 points, 48-30, with just over two minutes to go in the half. The final points of the half came from Pete Smith on a jumper to make it a 48-32 game at the break.
Trailing by 19 points early in the second half, Trine began to make its run as one-of-two free-throws by freshman Jalen Paul (Fort Wayne, Ind./Churubusco) led to a 10-0 run to narrow the gap to single digits, 57-48, with 14:55 to go. A three-pointer by OWU increased the margin back to double figures but another Thunder run shortly after put Trine within striking distance, 62-59, at the 12:39 mark following a three-point play by Copeland.
The hot shooting continued for Trine that found itself down by just a point, 64-63, with just over 11 minutes to go after two more freebies by Copeland. The Bishops responded with an ensuing, 8-2, run to go up by seven points, 72-65, with less than 10 minutes remaining in the game.
OWU later got out to a double-figure advantage again, 83-73, with 6:49 to go, but Trine hung around and made a final run late and trailed by just three points, 94-91, after a layup by Copeland with 33 seconds remaining. The Bishops then put the game away at the free-throw line as OWU made five-of-six shots from the charity stripe to end the game. Pete Smith connected on a triple for the final points of the game, but the earlier free-throws by OWU allowed the Bishops to hang on for a 99-96 win.
OWU shot 54.1 percent (33-of-61) for the game, including 43.2 percent (16-of-37) from three-point range and 85.0 percent (17-of-20) at the charity stripe. Trine finished the game shooting 58.1 percent (36-of-62) overall and 53.3 percent (eight-of-15) from long range. The Thunder also shot 72.7 percent (16-of-22) at the free-throw line.
Trine returns to action tomorrow (Saturday, Nov. 18) when it takes on Kenyon College in a non-conference game in Gambier, Ohio. Tip-off is slated for 4 p.m.