CLEVELAND, Ohio – So much for conventional wisdom. The re-tooled Wittenberg Tiger men's basketball team completed an unexpected weekend sweep with a 69-52 victory over host Case Western in the championship game of the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Memorial Classic.
The win came less than 24 hours after the Tigers defeated Johns Hopkins 61-44 in their 2012 season opener, and it moved Wittenberg to 2-0 heading into a road trip to Capital on Tuesday, Nov. 20. Case Western, which defeated Bluffton on Friday, is now 1-1.
The title trophy was anything but a sure thing in the early going on both nights, but the Tigers bounced back well from a pair of slow starts. It took Wittenberg more than four minutes to finally dent the scoreboard against Case Western, but once the lid was removed from the basket an early 8-0 deficit was quickly erased.
Thanks to a 13-4 run to close the first half, the Tigers took a three-point lead into the locker room at halftime. Just as they did a night earlier, the Tigers then pieced together an even better final 20 minutes to pull away, this time outscoring the Spartans 38-24, in part thanks to a 9-for-9 performance from the free throw line, compared to 2-for-7 for Case Western.
With Wittenberg clinging to a 44-40 lead midway through the second half, the Tigers finally created some space with a 12-3 run over a four-minute stretch as four different players scored.
That balance was reflected on the final stats sheet for a second consecutive night as seven different players scored at least two points, led by junior Scott Masin (New Carlisle, Ohio/Bethel), who posted career-highs of 20 points and 12 rebounds to earn All-Tournament team honors. Also impressive was the play of sophomore Sam Collins (Cleveland Heights, Ohio/Cleveland Heights), who nearly pulled off the first triple-double in Wittenberg men's basketball history with 14 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists to earn Tournament MVP honors.
Junior guards Zack Leahy (Rossford, Ohio/Rossford) and Steven Newell (Englewood, Ohio/Northmont) added 11 points and nine points, respectively. As a team, Wittenberg shot 44 percent from the field, compared to 38.5 percent for Case Western, and the Tigers dominated the boards, outrebounding the Spartans by 14.