SPRINGFIELD, Ohio-- #3 Wittenberg fell to #24 Wisconsin-Oshkosh 68-60 in the second round of the Division III tournament on Saturday night. The Tigers wrap up 2017-18 at 27-3, including a 16-1 mark on their home floor. Despite falling down by as many as 17 early on, and trailing by 15 at the half, the Tigers had it in them yet again to comeback in front of a wild crowd at Pam Evans. Smith Arena. After clawing back into the game with a big run to take the lead, Wittenberg fell victim to the Titans hot shooting and a clutch performance at the free-throw line to eventually fall 68-60.
HOW IT HAPPENED: Wittenberg trailed 34-19 at the break, as the Tigers trailed by as many as 17 in the first 20 minutes of play. After playing catchup for most of the second half, the Tigers finally completed the comeback with 6:10 remaining in the game after a Jacob Bertemes made layup. Wittenberg would gain the lead at 53-31 for the first time with 4:28 remaining after Bertemes drove to the cup and found a cutting Jordan Pumroy on a wrap-around pass for an easy layup. The next trip down the floor for Wittenberg resulted in Pumroy splitting a pair of free-throws to give the Tigers a 54-51 lead with an even four minutes left on the clock. Oshkosh and Wittenberg would knot things back up at 56-56 with 1:55 remaining, as the Titans would gain the lead, and never give it back to the Tigers, as Wittenberg fell 68-60 at the final horn.
WHO STOOD OUT: Senior Chad Roy logged 35 minutes for the Tigers in his final game as a Tiger, pouring in 13 points on three of seven shooting to lead his team one final time. Connor Seipel and Mitchell Balser each finished with ten points, as Pumroy paced the Tigers with nine boards.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Wittenberg and Oshkosh both tallied an even 26 points in the paint and finished 41% and 42% from the field, but the difference in the game was the Titan's ability to connect from the three-point line. Wittenberg saw a Wisconsin-Oshkosh team shoot nine of 22 from the three-point line and go 11 of 16 from the free-throw line, including a nine-point run down the stretch.
A LOOK BACK: NCAC coaches voted Wittenberg to finish third in the preseason poll. The Tigers didn't enter the national rankings until Jan. 1. From there Wittenberg has climbed from No. 17 to No. 10 to No. 5 to No. 3 in the D3Hoops.com poll. 22 in a row served as Wittenberg's first double-digit win streak since 2013-14 when they won 11 games in a row, a season that saw the Tigers finish 21-8. Before running the table in NCAC regular season play, the Tigers opened the year with non-conference wins against Mount St. Joseph, Birmingham-Southern, Capital and Otterbein. Wittenberg's win against Capital came at the buzzer on a baseball style pass from Rashaad Ali-Shakir to Jacob Bertemes. Bertemes' layup at the buzzer gave the Tigers the game, as the sophomore's late theatrics have helped the Tigers come up big on the back-end of games all season.
TIGER DNA: Wittenberg was 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. The Tigers made their 35th NCAA Postseason appearance in school history this season. The Tigers last NCAA tournament appearance came in 2014, as Wittenberg holds an overall record of 66-35 in NCAA Play. The Tigers are 17-4 overall in first round play, not including seven byes, and 16-10 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.
.@WittenbergHoops concludes 2017-18 at 27-3 overall. The Tigers put on a show for the city of Springfield all season long. Congratulations to the coaching staff and this year's three seniors, Chad Roy, Logan Boyd and Chris Sloneker. #TigerUp #d3h pic.twitter.com/PMm9qJ3CbB— Wittenberg Athletics (@WittAthletics) March 4, 2018