GAMBIER, Ohio — The Wittenberg men's basketball team found itself in a place they may not have expected, but came from behind with a big run late in the game, outscoring host Kenyon 21-12 over the final 5:48 to secure a 90-82 victory on the road Wednesday night.
The Tigers improved to 10-4 overall and remained unbeaten in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) at 6-0 and in a first-place tie with No. 1 ranked Wooster.
The lead changed 14 times in a hard-fought contest, but it changed for good with 5:48 remaining in the second half, when senior guard Chris Sullivan (Columbus, Ohio/Upper Arlington) hit a three-pointer to give his team a 72-70 lead.
After two made free throws by junior Clayton Black (Lancaster, Ohio/Lancaster) and a Kenyon field goal, the Tigers gained some separation with a 9-0 run to extend the lead to 11 points with just 1:44 remaining.
The three-pointer that kicked off a 17-7 run over the next 5:02 was one of seven for Sullivan, as he cruised to 7-of-12 shooting from long range for a team-leading 21 total points. He added six rebounds in 35 minutes on the floor, and was just two three-point makes from tying the school record, held by Lou Stahl, who drained nine against Allegheny in 1999.
Sullivan has hit 63 of his 155 three-point attempts this season for an impressive 40.5-percent shooting mark from outside.
Black was just as key to the win as Sullivan, making 11-of-12 free throws, including five in the final run, to go with back-to-back blocked shots near the four-minute mark and three rebounds. For the game, Black finished with 17 points, six rebounds and three blocks.
Freshman guard Steven Newell (Englewood, Ohio/Northmont) keyed the offense with five assists, in addition to 4-of-6 from the floor, including 2-of-2 from three-point range, for 10 points. Senior wing Seth Hill (Bellefontaine, Ohio/Bellefontaine) had 12 points on 3-of-3 field goal shooting and 6-of-7 at the line.
Sophomore guard Cameron Walton (Waterville, Ohio/Anthony Wayne) added two three-pointers to the barrage on four attempts and went 1-of-2 from inside the arc to finish 3-of-6 with 10 points with four rebounds and two steals.
Junior post Alex Brandt (Lewis Center, Ohio/Olentangy) led the team with seven rebounds, and hit three of his five field goals along with 3-of-4 free throws for nine points.
All those fine shooting performances added up to 51-percent shooting, the fourth game over 50-percent this season. That mark includes 11-of-19 (57.9-percent) from three-point range. But the team was even more impressive at the line, where in all they hit 27 free throws, a season high, in 33 attempts (81.8-percent).
Wittenberg outrebounded the Lords 38-30 in the game, but were outscored in the paint 28-24, in large part due to the 28-point game of Kenyon post Kodey Haddox.
The Tigers return to the familiar confines of Pam Evans Smith Arena on Saturday, Jan. 15, for a non-conference tilt with the Ohio Northern Polar Bears, beginning at 3 p.m.