Wittenberg has dug a hole for itself in the North Coast Athletic Conference race with losses at home to the top teams in the conference in its first three NCAC games.
No. 15 Wooster routed the Tigers 60-41 in December, and No. 18 Ohio Wesleyan pulled away from Wittenberg in the second half Saturday at Pam Evans Smith Arena for a 72-60 victory.
Because of injuries to Cam Walton and John Albertson, the Tigers were short-handed, and four different Tigers played more than 30 minutes.
“Given all the people that we lost last year and as thin as we are personnel-wise, I’m just looking at this as a season of one-game series,” Wittenberg coach Bill Brown said. “I’m not going to stay down in the dumps. Yes, there are things we have to look at and evaluate and get better at, but I’m just looking forward in a positive fashion to the next game.”
Ohio Wesleyan, which has won eight in a row to improve to 11-1, snapped a six-game losing streak against Wittenberg. Prior to that streak, the Battling Bishops had beaten the Tigers five times in a row.
Now the Tigers (8-4, 1-2 NCAC) find themselves two games back of Wooster and Ohio Wesleyan, who are each 4-0 in the NCAC.
Each team hit six 3-pointers and made 14 free throws, but the Tigers committed 14 turnovers and Wesleyan had only five. The Battling Bishops had 12 offensive rebounds and converted many of them into points.
“The biggest difference in the game was the offensive rebounds they got,” Brown said. “They’re momentum-killers in your mind.”
Scott Masin led the Tigers with 16 points. Zack Leahy had 10 of his 11 points in the first half. Alex Fultz scored nine, and Steven Newell had eight.
Taylor Rieger had 17 points for the Battling Bishops. Marshall Morris scored 15, and Andy Winters had 13.
The Tigers trailed by as many as nine points in the first half and were down 37-34 at halftime.
The Tigers trailed despite shooting 57 percent to Wesleyan’s 43 percent because Wesleyan took 11 more shots. That was partly because Wesleyan committed three turnovers to Wittenberg’s eight.
For the first 10 minutes of the second half, the Tigers stayed with the Bishops. Then seized control with a 9-0 run over a three-minute stretch, taking a 60-48 lead with 6:55 to go. Wittenberg had three turnovers during Wesleyan’s run.
The Tigers return to action Monday with a 7:30 p.m. game at Oberlin (4-7, 2-1 NCAC), and they’re at home at 7 p.m. Wednesday against Kenyon (7-6, 1-3 NCAC).
Women’s game: The Tigers won their fourth straight game, beating Allegheny 75-54 at Pam Evans Smith Arena on Saturday. It was Wittenberg’s highest-scoring game of the season and its most lopsided victory.
Enri Small scored a season-high 23 points. Amber Rice had 14, and Heather Schroeder scored 10. Kim Replogle had eight points and nine rebounds.
Wittenberg (7-6, 3-1 NCAC) committed 28 turnovers, but out-rebounded the Gators 46-33.