Wittenberg’s Croci: First loss ‘wakes you up a little bit’

No. 5 Tigers play Ohio Wesleyan and Wooster in final week of regular season


The 22-game winning streak ended Saturday for the Wittenberg Tigers. Coach Matt Croci didn’t care so much about that. Breaking the school record for consecutive victories wasn’t a goal, even if it got everyone talking about his team.

Croci hates losing. The same goes for his players, though they were more disappointed in their performance than the result, a 94-71 loss at Hiram.

“That’s a positive, that they know they didn’t play well and we got beat by a better team that day, ” said Croci’s of his team’s attitude. “It certainly wakes you up a little bit. Everybody’s playing well right now. A lot of teams have a lot to play for, so you’ve got to be ready to go.”

» FOOTBALL: Witt alum joins Ohio State’s staff

The Tigers (22-1, 15-1) fell four victories short of tying the school record. The loss dropped them from No. 3 in the D3Hoops.com poll to No. 5 this week. No. 1 Whitman (23-0) remains the only defeated team. Wittenberg is the only one-loss team.

The defeat also means Wittenberg has to win one of its two remaining regular-season games to win the North Coast Athletic Conference championship outright. Neither game is an easy task. The Tigers play at third-place Ohio Wesleyan (15-8, 10-6) at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and host second-place Wooster (19-4, 13-3) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

» RELATED: Winning streak brought back memories for Croci

The Ohio Wesleyan game is difficult enough there’s no worry about Wittenberg looking ahead to the Senior Night game against their biggest rival. Wittenberg beat Ohio Wesleyan at home 93-72 on Jan. 17.

“They’re still the three-time defending league champs, so they’re very good,” Croci said. “They’re very talented. They have seniors who have been through a lot of these big games. We know we’re in for a battle. We’ve got to guard better and execute offensively and know we’re in for a challenge. I think we’ll be up for it.”

» RELATED: Freshman playing key roles for Wittenberg

Wittenberg will have to play better defense than it did at Hiram. Wittenberg allowed 80 or more points in a game once in the first 22 games, and it gave up a season-high 94 to the Terriers. Hiram shot 60.3 percent (35 of 58) from the field and 47.6 percent (10 of 21) from 3-point range.

“We just didn’t defend very well,” Croci said. “They made a lot of shots, but there are some things we have been doing and did not do well on Saturday. Hiram took advantage of it and shot a great percentage. That’s probably the biggest takeaway. We’ve got to get back to guarding with a chip on our shoulder.”

Ticket info: Wittenberg is selling tickets for $5 for the Wooster game at the HPER Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Friday. They are general-admission tickets. Buying tickets ahead of time will allow fans to skip waiting in line Saturday. Students and senior citizens get free tickets with a valid ID.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

Buckeyes on the return of Urban Meyer to sideline: ‘He drives our culture’
Buckeyes on the return of Urban Meyer to sideline: ‘He drives our culture’

Life has returned to normal for the Ohio State Buckeyes in that they will play the remaining nine regular-season games with their head coach, Urban Meyer, on the sideline. His three-game suspension ended Saturday when Ohio State beat Texas Christian 40-28. The Buckeyes went 3-0 with Ryan Day serving as acting head coach and will run out of the tunnel...
Unbeaten Springfield No. 4 in first football computer ratings
Unbeaten Springfield No. 4 in first football computer ratings

Unbeaten Springfield High School (4-0) was among the top Division I, Region 3 teams in the first Ohio High School Athletic Association football computer ratings. The Wildcats were No. 4 in the region and were among five GWOC teams among Region 3’s top 10. The highest rated Springfield-area team was undefeated Mechanicsburg (4-0), No. 3 in D-VI...
Cincinnati Bengals sign kicker Bullock to contract extension
Cincinnati Bengals sign kicker Bullock to contract extension

The Bengals on Tuesday rewarded kicker Randy Bullock for his reliability. The Bengals signed Bullock to two-year contract extension through the 2020 season. Bullock was in the final season of a two-year deal. »RELATED: Panthers’ offensive style presents challenges for Bengals Since joining the Bengals during the 2016 season, Bullock has...
High School Football computer ratings: Is your team in the playoff mix?
High School Football computer ratings: Is your team in the playoff mix?

The Ohio High School Athletic Association made its football computer ratings debut on Tuesday. The top eight schools from each region in the final report Oct. 29 will qualify for the playoffs. Region 1 - 1. Mentor (4-0) 11.65, 2. Solon (4-0) 9.575, 3. Euclid (3-1) 8.875, 4. Canton McKinley (4-0) 7.9242, 5. Austintown-Fitch (3-1) 7.8, 6. Strongsville...
Urban Meyer reveals his role in Ohio State offense moving forward
Urban Meyer reveals his role in Ohio State offense moving forward

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?  That apparently is Urban Meyer’s thinking as he returns to the sideline this weekend for Ohio State football after a three-game suspension.  “I think I’ll be involved more as a game manager at this point,” the coach said on the Big Ten coaches teleconference Tuesday afternoon...
More Stories