Witt moves on after last-second loss

There’s a pattern in Wittenberg men’s basketball season, and if it continues, it means the Tigers have a successful stretch ahead.

Wittenberg opened the season with four wins, then lost two straight, won four, lost two, won four and finally lost two. That adds up to a 12-6 record, but all the Tigers are thinking about is those last two losses, especially the last-second 68-66 defeat at DePauw on Wednesday.

Wittenberg tied the game on a 3-pointer by Alex Fultz with five seconds left in overtime, but Alex Payne took the inbounds pass and went coast-to-coast to bank in a jump shot at the buzzer.

That loss added to the Tigers’ disappointment after a 62-57 loss at home to Hiram four days earlier.

“You’ve got to learn from it what you can and move on,” Wittenberg coach Bill Brown said. “Just two real difficult losses.”

The two losses have pretty much ruined Wittenberg’s chance to repeat as North Coast Athletic Conference regular-season champions. They’re 5-4, tied for third place with DePauw (12-6, 5-4) and four games behind first-place Wooster (15-2, 9-0). Ohio Wesleyan (14-3, 7-2) is second.

The Tigers will focus on playing for a good seed in the NCAC tournament.

“We’ve looked at reality as far as the league race and the rest of the regular season,” Brown said. “We’re not going to ignore it. We’re not going to dwell on it. There are four or five teams that can finish anywhere from the top two to the bottom five. There isn’t a big difference in talent level between any of them.”

The Tigers got a lift Wednesday with the return of sophomore forward John Albertson to the rotation. He had missed six games after injuring his elbow. He had two points against DePauw.

“He practiced Monday and Tuesday and played nine minutes Wednesday,” Brown said. “He did surprisingly well for that brief time he was in there and didn’t experience any severe ramifications at practice Thursday.”

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