2001 North Coast Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Tournament

Hosted by Wittenberg University

Saturday, February 24, 2001
Championship Game 7 p.m.
College of Wooster (24-3) def. Wittenberg University (23-3)59-56

In a game that looked nothing like its two predecessors, the College of Wooster Fighting Scots and the Wittenberg University Tigers brawled for 40 minutes before the second-seeded Scots came away with an emotional 59-56 victory over the top-seeded and host Tigers. The victory improves Wooster to 24-3 on the 2000-01 season and earns the Scots their third consecutive automatic berth in the NCAA Division III men's basketball tournament, which begins March 1.

Wooster came out strong early, jumping on top and holding an 8-to-10 point lead throughout most of the first 20 minutes of the game. But Wittenberg battled back in the second half to take the lead on a three-point field goal by sophomore forward B.J. Harris with 13 minutes remaining. The lead then changed hands four times and included two ties heading into the final minute of action.

That's when Wooster's junior point guard Antwyan Reynolds buried a three-pointer with 28 seconds remaining. Wittenberg then missed two free throws and two three-pointers in a desperate final flurry to give Wooster the hard-earned victory.

Hardly a thing of beauty after two high-scoring, well-played game earlier in the season - both of which were won by eventual regular season champion Wittenberg - the game was bruising and intense, and the season-high crowd of 2,475 screaming fans never lost their intensity either. Wooster, which shot 55 percent from the field in the first half and then a dreadful 30 percent in the second half, was led by the herculean effort of sophomore center Bryan Nelson, who scored 31 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to earn Tournament MVP honors. Reynolds, who made the All-Tournament Team, added 12 points and six assists.

For Wittenberg, the shooting percentages were that much worse, which ended being the difference in the game. The Tigers made just 33 percent from the field in the game, including a stunning 27 percent in the second half. Even worse, the Tigers managed just 64 percent from the free throw line, including a disastrous 47 percent in the final 20 minutes. Despite those numbers, All-Tournament Team selection Kevin Longley did shine, scoring 17 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in 27 minutes of action. Senior forward Ryan Taylor was limited to six points and four rebounds but was also selected to the All-Tournament Team based on his 16 points that carried Wittenberg to the Friday night win over Ohio Wesleyan.

Box Score Wooster 59, Wittenberg 56

Bryan Nelson (Wooster) - MVP
Antwyan Reynolds (Wooster)
Ryan Taylor (Wittenberg)
Kevin Longley (Wittenberg)
Travis Schwab (Ohio Wesleyan)
Nathan Stoops (Earlham)

2001 NCAC Men's Basketball All-Tournament Team


Friday, February 23, 2001
Semifinals 6 p.m.
No. 2 College of Wooster (23-3) def. Earlham College (16-10)90-79

The College of Wooster Fighting Scots entered the 2001 North Coast Athletic Conference men's basketball tournament semifinals reeling a bit. After rebounding from a loss to Wittenberg University on Jan. 20, the Scots, the preseason regular season favorite, won five straight heading into the home finale against Wittenberg, only to be defeated again. Then in the first round of the tourney, the Scots had to rally late to stave off a game challenge from the Hiram College Terriers.

So when the Scots came out on fire Friday night against the Earlham College Quakers, seeded No. 3 in the NCAC tournament, it appeared that perhaps Wooster had finally put things back together. Wooster jumped out to an 11-0 lead and were cruising into the locker room at halftime holding a 44-35 advantage.

It wound up taking everything the Scots had to hold off the trigger-happy Quakers, who captured a pair of two-point leads during a furious rally to open the final 20 minutes. Wooster finally got it going again in the last eight minutes, going on a decisive 12-5 run to get some breathing room and stretch out to the final 90-79 victory.

All five starters and Brian Carlisle off the bench scored in double figures for the Scots, led by 18 points from junior guard Antwyan Reynolds, and 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists for senior forward Steve Thompson. Earlham got double figure scoring games from four of its five starters, led by sophomore forward Nathan Stoops' 22 points and five rebounds and center Brady Keaton's 18 points and eight rebounds.

Box Score Wooster 90, Earlham 79

8:15 p.m.
No. 1 Wittenberg University (23-2) def. Ohio Wesleyan University (11-15)70-66

The No. 2 seeded Wittenberg University Tigers, ranked No. 2 in the country by d3hoops.com, overcame a valiant effort by the young, fourth-seeded Ohio Wesleyan University Battling Bishops to advance to the championship game of the North Coast Athletic Conference tournament for the first time since 1997, defeating OWU 70-66.

The Tigers opened the game strong, going on a 4-0 run early in the first half to open up a 12-7 lead at the 15-minute mark. Late in the first half, the Bishops responded with a run of their own, this one 4-0 as well, to cut the Tiger lead to 23-20 with 7:32 remaining in the opening period. Both teams traded buckets to end the half before OWU's Jason Dopoulos scored on a half-court trey to end the half and dwindle the Tigers' lead to 34-32.

The early portions of the second half belonged to the Bishops, specifically freshman center Travis Schwab, who repeatedly burned the Tigers with short jump shots. After tying the game at 41 on a three-pointer from Jason Dopoulos, who had four of the team's six three-pointers in the game, the Battling Bishops went on a 6-0 run before the Tigers were able to get a mid-range jumper from sophomore forward B.J. Harris. Late in the second half, the Tigers were able to claw their way back, scoring four unanswered points from the free thrown line. The harried contest was tied up at 62 all with 1:30 remaining when sophomore forward Kevin Longley hit a jumper. Wittenberg led Ohio Wesleyan from that point on, getting a clutch three pointer and four free throws from junior guard Greg Rustad, as well as one free throw from senior forward Ryan Taylor.

In the victory, the Tigers were led by the 16 points of Ryan Taylor, as well as 11 each from Chris Fillmore and Kevin Longley, who also pulled down 12 boards. Wittenberg survived the scare despite shooting just 31 percent from the field in the second half and making just 16-of-29 free throws in the game. Ohio Wesleyan, which was outrebounded 48-31 but shot 46 percent from the floor and committed just 10 turnovers in the game, got 27 points from Schwab and 24 from Dopoulos.

The Tigers will face the College of Wooster Fighting Scots for the North Coast Athletic Conference tournament title. The Scots defeated Earlham 90-79 in the first game this evening. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.

Box Score Wittenberg 70, Ohio Wesleyan 66