Wittenberg hasn’t earned many style points with its four-game winning streak, but style points never won anybody a conference title.
The Tigers beat Wabash 50-45 on Wednesday, and coach Bill Brown said Friday, “It was an ugly win, and we’ve had a few of those. Those are better than losing and playing great.”
The victory kept the Tigers (12-4) in shouting distance of first place going into today’s 4 p.m. home game against Hiram. They’re 5-2 in the North Coast Athletic Conference, trailing No. 8 Wooster (7-0) and No. 9 Ohio Wesleyan (6-1). Those teams meet today for the first time in Delaware.
Wittenberg won in Crawfordsville, Ind., despite making 10-of-22 free throws and committing twice as many turnovers (14-7) as the Little Giants. It was the second straight game the Tigers have trailed at halftime and then seized control in the opening minutes of the second half. Wabash scored 16 points in the second half.
“I thought we did a much better job contesting shots in the second half,” Brown said. “I don’t want to take credit for their abysmal shooting, but we had something to do with it.
“The next thing was Scott Masin just really carried us down the stretch, and we got timely plays from other people. Cam Walton doesn’t show up in the box score, but he had three steals, and they were just really good basketball plays. He was just in the right place, and not everyone always is. He was huge.”
Masin has become a double-double machine. He had three in the first 10 games and has had five in the last six. He had 19 points and 13 rebounds against Wabash.
Masin ranks sixth in the conference in scoring (15.3) and third in rebounding (8.9). He’s been wearing a mask most of the season to protect the nose he broke in December.
“It’s been very impressive,” Brown said. “He’s very fit. He’s very strong. It comes back primarily to his desire. He had three offensive rebounds on the same possession at Wabash with crowds of people around him. Maybe on the first two putbacks he took some contact before he finally got the call, but he showed great desire and determination.”
Masin is a big reason the Tigers rank second in the NCAC in rebounding margin (plus 8.0).
“We started off great in that area, and we had a little bit of a lull,” Brown said. “Stat-wise, we’ve done a really good job, but it’s been countered a bit by empty possessions and turnovers.”