Bill Brown told his Wittenberg men’s basketball team it was due for a monster game at home. He would have taken a one-point victory, of course, but a 64-47 victory over Wabash on Wednesday at Pam Evans Smith Arena might be just what his team needs coming down the stretch of the regular season.
That’s especially true considering the Tigers’ next opponent at 7:30 p.m. Saturday on the road is their bitter rival, 14th-ranked Wooster.
“You want to play good basketball no matter who is next on the schedule,” Brown said. “But obviously there is an element of confidence, even among the coaches, that comes with winning first and foremost and another level of confidence that comes with playing fairly well, and we have definitely been playing well the last two games.”
The Scots dominated Wittenberg 60-41 in Springfield on Dec. 1. That seems like a lifetime ago now. The Tigers have had theirs ups and downs since, but this victory, coupled with an 81-64 win at Allegheny last Saturday gives them some momentum.
Wittenberg shot 47 percent from the field and held Wabash to 29 percent. The Tigers seized control with a 7-0 run 11 minutes into the game, led 32-22 at halftime on the strength of 6-of-12 shooting from 3-point range and then scored the first four points of the second half.
The Tigers beat Wabash 50-45 on Jan. 16 in Crawfordsville, but this game was never close in the second half.
“I think we played really well as a team,” sophomore forward John Albertson said. “It was definitely a team win. Everybody got in there and contributed and got rebounds, and we played lockdown defense. We’ve been finding our range lately. That’s what we need.”
The Tigers (15-7 overall) remain in third place in the North Coast Athletic Conference at 8-5 with three regular-season games remaining.
Wooster (19-3, 12-1) clinched the NCAC regular-season championship by rallying from 13 down to beat Ohio Wesleyan 74-67 in overtime Wednesday. Ohio Wesleyan (16-5, 9-4) leads the Tigers by two games.
Scott Masin recorded his 11th double-double of the season with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Cam Walton and Zack Leahy each scored eight points. Logan Markko had seven.
Women’s game: The Tigers (11-11, 7-6) routed visiting Denison 59-45, avenging a 60-48 loss at Denison on Jan. 12.
Amber Rice led Wittenberg with 17 points. Seven other players had at least four points.
The Tigers led 11-2 after six minutes, and the Big Red never made a serious run.
The victory moved Wittenberg into a tie for fourth place with Allegheny. Denison (13-9, 8-5) had a five-game winning streak snapped and leads the Tigers and Gators by a game.
No. 1 DePauw (22-0, 13-0) has already clinched the regular-season title.