Springfield, OH – The Wittenberg University men's basketball team captures their second North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament crown in two years, as the Tigers defeated the College of Wooster 79-75 on Saturday afternoon from Timken Gymnasium. This is the eighth NCAC Tournament title for the Tigers, as they now stand at an even 8-8 in NCAC Championship games. In the 119th meeting between the two sides, Wittenberg bested the Scots 2-1 in the three meetings on the season. Wittenberg finished with four players scoring in double figures, as the lone senior Mitchell Balser led the way with 19 points on the evening.
After shooting 54 percent from the floor as a team in the first half, the Tigers went into the break trailing the Scots, 41-36. As the two sides battled for the advantage, trading the lead back and forth throughout the opening minutes. James Johneson led the Wittenberg scoring charge in the first half, tallying 12 points knocking down 4 of 6 from the floor, including 2 of 3 from beyond the arc and adding three rebounds. Balser added eight points with three rebounds in the first half, while disrupting the Wooster offense with three steals. Wittenberg came out of the half, opening up the action on a 16-2 scoring run to regain the lead. The Tigers reported a 54 percent shooting mark through the second half, knocking down 2 of 4 looks from deep range. Balser and Connor Seipel led the Tiger scoring effort in the second half, posting 11 points apiece. Seipel went 4 of 7 from the floor, reeling in five rebounds with one steal. Balser closed out the second half knocking down 4 of 8 from the floor, hauling in three rebounds, adding two assists and a steal. Balser would also come up with a crucial rebound in the closing seconds to help break the 75-75 tie and give the Tigers the lead in the closing seconds of action.
Who Stood Out
Seipel finished the game with 18 points on 7 of 11 from the field and converting on 4 of 6 free throws, adding eight rebounds on the night, two assists and two steals. Johnson logged 16 points, finishing the game 5 of 9 from the floor, tracking down five rebounds, and adding one steal, block and assist. Jacob Bertemes tallied 11 points, finishing the night 5 of 9 from the floor, while knocking down his only three-point attempt in the final seconds to give Wittenberg back the lead. Bertemes added three rebounds and one assist on the night.
Wittenberg has earned the NCAC Automatic Qualifier into the NCAA Tournament and will wait to see who they will face and what seed they have earned during the selection show on Monday, Feb. 25 at 12:30 PM