SPRINGFIELD, Ohio - The Wittenberg men's basketball team shot poorly from the free throw line most of the night against the University of Pittsburgh-Bradford, but at the end of a tight game it was free throws that sealed an unlikely 79-77 comeback win. The Tigers improved to 7-4 overall with the victory.
Throughout the first 29 minutes of the game, the Tigers went just 5-of-13 from the free throw line, helping create a 64-49, 15-point deficit, the largest of the game, with 11:11 remaining.
The remainder of the game played much differently, as Wittenberg made 8-of-11 at the stripe to fuel a comeback rally over the last 11 minutes.
An offensive push coupled with 8-of-11 free throw shooting for Wittenberg changed the game over the last 11 minutes. The Tigers charged back within four points at 74-70 With 2:50 remaining before junior forward Clayton Black (Lancaster, Ohio/Lancaster) nailed a short jumper to pull his team within two points at 74-72.
Following an unforced turnover by Bradford at the other end, junior post Alex Brandt (Lewis Center, Ohio/Olentangy) grabbed his own miss at 2:13 and fed out to sophomore guard Cameron Walton (Waterville, Ohio/Anthony Wayne) for an easy three to retake the lead for the first time since 16:19 in the first.
With 36 seconds and the score still 75-74 in favor of the Tigers, Bradford sent senior guard Chris Sullivan (Columbus, Ohio/Upper Arlington) to the line for two. He hit both to push the lead to three points, but the Panthers immediately erased the advantage with a three-pointer.
Bradford again put Sullivan on the line, where this time he iced the game with two more made free throws with four seconds remaining.
Sullivan proved a key part of the entire rally, sinking three long-range shots and hitting all six of his free throw attempts in the second period as part of a 22-point effort overall. Black led the team in scoring with 23 points on a sparkling 9-of-10 from the field.
Brandt was steady with 4-of-5 from the floor and a team-high six rebounds, while senior wing Seth Hill (Bellefontaine, Ohio/Bellefontaine) added five rebounds, three assists and three steals.
The Tigers also took advantage of the Panthers' 18 turnovers to create 22 points, while only turning the ball over 12 times for 13 points. The Panthers played an impressive ballgame following a personnel change at the head coaching position just days ago, along with the loss of three key players.
Wittenberg returns to action on Wednesday, Jan. 5, with an 8 p.m. game hosting Oberlin as the finale of a women's/men's doubleheader at Pam Evans Smith Arena. The women also play Oberlin, beginning at 6 p.m.
John Strawn '07