WOOSTER, Ohio — The Wittenberg men's basketball team will await word from the NCAA Selection Committee on Monday on whether their 2010-11 season is complete following an 82-68 loss to the College of Wooster in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) Tournament Championship Game.
The Fighting Scots (26-2) won the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament along with the NCAC Tournament Championship, while the NCAC Tournament Runner-Up Tigers (19-8) will be tuned into NCAA.com for the 1 p.m. selection show to see if they have earned a spot on the bracket in the Pool C category.
The trouble for the Tigers started after they scored the first points of the game. Wooster senior Ian Franks nailed a three-pointer, the first of many in what was a torrential shooting night for the Scots.
As a team, Wooster shot better and more often from three-point range than from within the arc, at 56.5 percent (13-23) from long range and 55.8 percent (24-43) overall. Wittenberg hit just one less field goal overall (23-56, 41 percent), but only seven for three points. The Scots also converted 21-of-33 from the free throw line, against the Tigers' 15-of-23.
Junior Clayton Black (Lancaster, Ohio/Lancaster) earned all-tournament honors after leading the team with 19 points on 4-of-6 from the field and 11-of-15 from the line, to go with six rebounds, which tied for the team lead. Senior Chris Sullivan (Columbus, Ohio/Upper Arlington) also made his way onto the all-tournament team after his 29-point, nine three-point performance Friday against Wabash.
Junior Alex Brandt (Lewis Center, Ohio/Olentangy), who was vital in the last outing against Wooster in Timken Gymnasium, backed up Black with 14 total points on 6-of-7 shooting, while junior Josh McKee (New Carlisle, Ohio/Tecumseh) grabbed six rebounds to match Black and was one of three Tigers with nine points.
After tying the game at 6-6, Wooster went on a nine-point run to earn a 15-6 lead, and when they pushed the lead to 11 with 13:33 remaining in the first, the margin would stay in double figures until Wittenberg started making up ground with 7:14 to go.
The Tigers got made shots by junior Jacob Weide (Fort Wayne, Ind./Homestead) and Black, a three-pointer from Sullivan and two good free throws from Black, all in succession, to combine for an eight-point run and whittle the deficit down to seven with just over four to go in the first.
The Tigers narrowed it five over the next three minutes, but a good free throw shot by Matt Fegan and a three-pointer from Justin Hallowell as time expired for the Scots put the margin back to nine heading to the intermission.
The three-point barrage continued when play resumed, starting with Nathan Balch just 13 seconds into the half. The Scots led by 14 at the 16:01 mark only to see a 14-4 Tiger run cut the game to four points at 11:15. Over the last 10 minutes, however, Wooster would lead by no less than seven. The Scots went 8-for-9 from the free throw line over the last minute and a half to seal the game.
The tournament title marks the third straight for Wooster. Ian Franks finished 8-of-13 with 25 points, and Justin Hallowell hit 4-of-6 three-point attempts and 5-of-7 at the line to finish with 19 points.
John Strawn '07