At halftime Wednesday night it was obvious Wittenberg’s Bill Brown would be celebrating his 500th career victory as a college basketball head coach.
The hot-shooting Tigers rolled to a 21-point halftime lead and coasted to a 79-55 victory over nonconference rival Capital in their home opener.
“I never dreamed that we would win by any advantage like that,” said Brown, whose team shot 64.3 percent in the first half. “Capital just had a flat night.”
Brown’s 500 victories are all in NCAA Division III and include 440 at Wittenberg where he is in his 21st season. He is the 14th active Division III coach to reach 500 victories and 32nd Division III coach all-time to do it.
“It’s just amazing how he prepares for every game and gets us ready for every game,” Tigers senior center Scott Masin said. “He brings intensity to us day in and day out. It’s something to look up to.”
Brown said he understands it has taken a lot of good players to get him to this milestone.
“I’m proud of it — I work really hard,” Brown said. “But I also realize I’ve never scored one point, never grabbed one rebound, never dished out an assist. I did tell the guys I have caught a few errant passes sitting over there on the bench, but those don’t show up on the stat sheet.”
That stat sheet was a bit concerning early as Capital made its first four 3-pointers to trail 14-12.
“We said, ‘Hey, we need better shot contests,’ ” Brown said. “These guys that are hitting the threes aren’t drivers of the basketball. We need to crowd them a little bit.”
The Tigers (2-1) did little wrong from there and took control with a 19-6 run to build a 33-18 lead with 7:05 left in the half. They led 49-28 at the break. Masin did most of the early damage on the offensive glass and scored 12 of his game-high 17 points.
“When he put his mind to it he was a man out there,” Brown said of Masin. “Over the last two years the breakout play of him has just been so important to us.”
Alex Fultz sparked the decisive first-half run with 13 of his 14 points over the last 10:38 and 3-of-4 shooting from 3-point range.
“When we get the ball inside to Scott it really creates on the perimeter for a lot of guys to spot up and shoot,” Fultz said. “That’s what we try to do and we really got it going in the first half.”
Capital has won the last two Ohio Athletic Conference titles, but is replacing four starters this season. The Tigers held the Crusaders (1-1) to 32.7 percent shooting. After making five of eight 3-pointers in the first half, they missed all nine attempts in the second half.
“Just some of the basics — rebounding, assists, defense — all in all it was just an outstanding night for us,” Brown said.
And a victory to be especially proud of.