SPRINGFIELD, Ohio—Wittenberg men's basketball claimed their seventh NCAC Tournament Title in school history on Saturday with an 82-70 win against the Battling Bishops of Ohio Wesleyan University. The sharp shooting Battling Bishops could not keep up with the Tiger's big men Connor Seipel and Chad Roy, as Seipel (28-points) and Roy (26-points) could not be stopped in the paint. Wittenberg outscored OWU 62-30 in the paint on the afternoon, as both Seipel and Roy were named to the NCAC All-Tournament team, with Seipel earing Tournament MVP Honors.
HOW IT HAPPENED: Despite trailing early on, the Tigers claimed their first lead of the afternoon with 5:44 remaining in the first-half at 29-28. At the break, the Tigers and OWU were knotted up at 35-35 after a first-half that was controlled by OWU's ability to score from deep. Seth Clark continued his hot shooting from the floor for OWU, a night after the senior guard burned Wooster for 44 points in an overtime victory. Out of the break, the Tigers continued to force the issue inside by feeding Roy and Seipel, as the Tiger's lead grew to 50-46 within the first five minutes of the second half. With a little breathing room and more room to operate in the low post, the Tigers began to run their offense to perfection. After a pulling down a defensive rebound and running the floor, Roy was rewarded with a layup off a pass from Jordan Pumroy to put the Tigers up 62-52 with 9:28 remaining in regulation. Mitchell Balser splashed home a three pointer with 7:20 remaining to give the Tigers a 72-58 lead, the Tigers largest lead of the game at that point. Balser's three served as one of his two made field-goals, as the junior helped feed the Tiger's low-block all afternoon. Down the stretch, OWU managed to connect on multiple contested three-pointers, but the Tigers low-post game proved to be too much for the Battling Bishops, as the Tigers won the NCAC crown 82-70.
WHO STOOD OUT: Seipel's double-double paced the Tigers, as the sophomore tournament MVP was relentless on the low-block with a 14 of 17 night from the floor. Roy's night of 26 points came off 13 of 17 shooting from the floor, as the facilitator for both bigs was Balser, who finished the game with a season high 11 assists. Rashaad Ali-Shakir was a nice shot in the arm for the Tiger's off the bench, as the freshman totaled 15 points on six of nine shooting.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: OWU led by as many as 11 in the first half, before Wittenberg was able to erase the deficit and grab a 14-point lead of their own in the second half. The Tigers recorded 26 assists on 38 of their field goal attempts. Wittenberg outrebounded the undersized Battling Bishops 43-33 and shot nearly 54% from the floor in the championship win.
NCAA TIME: Wittenberg has been crowned the 2017 NCAC Tournament Champions for the first time since 2005-2006. Wittenberg's last trip to the tournament championship game came in 2013-14 at Wooster. Wittenberg now awaits their NCAA tournament fate, as the 26-2 Tigers are now making their 35th NCAA Postseason appearance in school history. The Tigers last NCAA tournament appearance came in 2014, as Wittenberg holds an overall record of 65-35 in NCAA Play. The Tigers are 16-4 overall in first round play, not including seven byes, and 16-9 in the Round of 32. The Tigers last hosted an NCAA tournament game in 2005-2006, as Wittenberg was able to win against Lake Erie, Baldwin Wallace, Hope and Transylvania all in Springfield, before winning their Final Four game against Amherst in Salem, Virginia. That year, the Tigers ultimately fell in the Division III National Title game 59-56 to Virginia Wesleyan.
ALL TOURNAMENT TEAM:
UP NEXT: Check back later in the week for updates on NCAA Tournament play, including live links to tune in to the selection show on Twitter and Facebook.
Final: @WittenbergHoops 82, Ohio Wesleyan 70— Scott Leo (@Scott_Leo) February 24, 2018
Tigers (26-2) win 7th @NCAC Tournament Championship in program history (first since 2006). #TigerUp @WittAthletics
Listen to Wittenberg players discuss the victory with "The Coach" Jim Scobyhttps://t.co/XUzCAFbaWK
Wittenberg just ran off the floor, forgetting to cut down the net. But it's coming back out. First time since 2006 so they can be forgiven. pic.twitter.com/pISsHNoFua— David Jablonski (@DavidPJablonski) February 24, 2018