COLUMBUS, Ohio – Three games into the 2012-13 season and the Wittenberg men's basketball team has gone back to basics. That starts with a suffocating defense that has not allowed more than 54 points in a perfect 3-0 start.
The latest victim was preseason Ohio Athletic Conference favorite Capital, which dropped a 66-54 decision to the visiting Tigers. The Crusaders (1-2) were limited to just 16 points in the first half while falling behind by a dozen points, and Wittenberg held off several charges over the final 20 minutes thanks to tremendous offensive balance to win by the same margin.
Defensively, Wittenberg held Capital to 31 percent shooting in the game, compared to 57 percent for the Tigers, who put four players in double figures. Sophomore Sam Collins (Cleveland Heights, Ohio/Cleveland Heights) hit for 14 points, followed by freshman Alex Fultz (Cincinnati, Ohio/Glen Este) with 13, junior Zack Leahy (Rossford, Ohio/Rossford) with 12 and junior Steven Newell (Englewood, Ohio/Northmont) with 11.
"This is a team that is really coming together. They are very coachable, they have shown some toughness, and they don't care who gets the credit," said Wittenberg Head Coach Bill Brown, who was faced with replacing four starters off last year's NCAA Division III Tournament Elite 8 squad.
A 16-2 Wittenberg burst midway through the first half broke open a close game. Capital saw its 10-8 lead turn into a 24-12 deficit over the course of eight minutes, capped by a three-pointer from Fultz at the 3:40 mark. In the second half, Capital pulled to within five points on a three-pointer with 6:59 remaining but the Tigers answered with an eight-point run to put the game out of reach.
In addition to his scoring, Collins led the Tigers with nine rebounds. Wittenberg won the battle of the boards 31-29, although the Tigers committed six more turnovers in the game.