SPRINGFIELD, Ohio – As home debuts go, it would be hard to top the Wittenberg Tigers' 2012-13 maiden voyage on the home floor at Pam Evans Smith Arena.
Wittenberg led from start to finish, shooting nearly 59 percent from the field, winning the battle of the boards 34-30, committing a relatively modest 12 turnovers and avenging a two-year drought against Marietta with a 73-63 non-conference victory. The win moved the Tigers to 4-0 on the young season, and it offered momentum heading into Saturday's North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) opener against 16th-ranked Wooster.
While Wittenberg never trailed in the game, the Tigers struggled to put the game away over the final 15 minutes as Marietta cut a 17-point lead to six with two minutes remaining. However, the Tigers dropped 6-of-8 free throws over the final 54 seconds to stave off the Pioneers, who defeated Wittenberg's 2010-11 season in the second round of the NCAA Division III Tournament and also beat the Tigers by 20 points early last year.
Both of those games were played at Marietta, however. Spurred on by a small but boisterous student crowd, the Tigers were solid in almost every phase of the game as four players reached double figures in scoring, led by 17 points from junior Scott Masin (New Carlisle, Ohio/Bethel), and the Pioneers were limited to 37.5 percent shooting at the other end.
"Offensively, we did a better job of finding Scott Masin inside, and that opened a lot of things up for us in the second half," said Head Coach Bill Brown. "We also did a much better job defensively in the second half – it was bit of a design thing in the first half that we got corrected, and that made a big difference."
Masin finished with a double-double, as he led both teams with 10 rebounds, and he even added three assists. Sophomore Sam Collins (Cleveland Heights, Ohio/Cleveland Heights) added 16 points and seven boards, while junior Zack Leahy (Rossford, Ohio/Rossford) chipped in with 12 points, three rebounds and three assists, and junior Steven Newell (Englewood, Ohio/Northmont) rounded things out with 10 points and three rebounds.