WOOSTER, Ohio — It might as well have been Senior Night all over again. Wittenberg senior Chris Sullivan (Columbus, Ohio/Upper Arlington) dropped in a school and tournament record-tying nine three-pointers against Wabash in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) Tournament semifinals Friday night, but just two points from fellow senior Seth Hill (Bellefontaine, Ohio/Bellefontaine) sent the Tiger faithful in Timken Gymnasium into a frenzy.
Hill also sent the Tigers (19-7, 12-3 NCAC) into the NCAC Tournament finals after he pulled down a defensive rebound off a block from junior Clayton Black (Lancaster, Ohio/Lancaster). With three seconds remaining, Hill went coast-to-coast to sink a buzzer-beater from the lane, breaking a 63-63 tie as time expired for the win.
Photo courtesy Dave Jablonski, Springfield News-Sun
Hill hit the game-winner, but Sullivan carried the Tigers all the way against the d3hoops.com No. 16 Little Giants (20-6) with 29 points on 9-of-12 shooting, including 9-of-11 from three-point range, and 2-of-2 from the free throw line.
The sharpshooting performance tied both the school and NCAC tournament records for made three-point field goals in a game. Sullivan already came close to the Wittenberg record, originally set by Lou Stahl against Allegheny in 1999, with eight long-distance makes at Ohio Wesleyan earlier this season on Feb. 9. In the same game, Sullivan broke the school records of 90 in a season and 210 in a career.
Wabash's Josh Estelle originally set the NCAC tournament record with nine three-pointers against Wooster on Feb. 26, 2000. Sullivan now owns 234 three-pointers in his Wittenberg career, 264 in his overall collegiate career, and 113 this season alone.
Sullivan hit 4-of-4 in the first half to send the Tigers into the locker room with a 29-24 lead. Over the first three and a half minutes back on the floor, Wittenberg built an eight-point lead, but Wabash scored nine of the next 12 points to position themselves within one point with 13:13 remaining in the game.
The Little Giants tied the game at 50 at the 7:10 mark on a fastbreak jumper from Wes Smith. He came right back and hit another jumpshot to give Wabash a lead they would hold for over a minute and a half, but Black took back a 57-56 lead with a close-range make with just over 4 minutes to go.
The Tigers led for three minutes before Wabash's Nick Curosh nailed a game-tying shot with 57 seconds left. The Tigers could not cash in on the next possession, but Wabash was cold, too, and after a missed shot and Black's block, Hill raced across the floor to hit the last-second game-winner.
Black finished the game with nine points and a team-high five rebounds, followed by eight points from junior Michael Cooper (Springfield, Ohio/South) and six from junior Alex Brandt (Lewis Center, Ohio/Olentangy).
Cooper and Hill each turned in four rebounds, while Cooper led the team with three assists and Black blocked two shots.
The Tigers will play at 7 p.m. in Timken Gymnasium at the College of Wooster, against the winner of Friday night's other semifinal between fourth-seeded Ohio Wesleyan and NCAC regular season champion Wooster.
John Strawn '07