Wittenberg poses for a team photo after winning the NCAC championship by beating Wooster on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019, at Wooster's Timken Gymnasium.
Photo: Submitted
Photo: Submitted

Balser’s layup lifts Wittenberg to NCAC championship, NCAA berth

Centerville grad scores 19 points against his old team and hits the game-winner

A tie-breaking layup by Mitch Balser with seven seconds to play lifted the Wittenberg Tigers over Wooster in the North Coast Athletic Conference championship game Saturday at Wooster’s Timken Gymnasium.

Wittenberg’s 79-75 victory gives it the NCAC’s automatic NCAA tournament bid for the second straight season. The Division III bracket will be unveiled on NCAA.com at 12:30 p.m. Monday.

» HISTORY LESSON: Witt, Wooster meet in final for 13th time

The Centerville grad Balser, who played his first two seasons at Wooster, led the Tigers with 19 points. He hit two free throws with one seconds left to seal the victory after Wooster’s Danyon Hempy missed a layup with two seconds remaining.

Wittenberg beat Wooster in the NCAC championship for the first time since 2006 when it won its second straight title against the Scots. Both of those games were also played at Wooster. The Tigers improved to 7-8 in the NCAC final and 5-8 against Wooster.

The Tigers (23-5) will head to the NCAA tournament with a 10-game winning streak. This will be their 35th appearance in the national tournament. They lost 68-60 to Wisconsin-Oshkosh in the second round last season.

The teams split the regular-season series. Wooster won 73-65 in Springfield on Jan. 12. Wittenberg won 84-74 at Wooster on Feb. 9.

The No. 2 seed Tigers advanced to the championship with an 89-75 victory Friday against No. 3 seed Ohio Wesleyan. James Johnson led Wittenberg with 19 points. No. 1 seed Wooster beat No. 4 seed DePauw 73-52.

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