Wittenberg’s biggest rival since the beginning of athletics has always seemed to be the Fighting Scots of the College of Wooster. No one really knows why it’s Wooster – something about history and the founding of Wittenberg. All fans for both teams care most about beating the other, though.
Rounding out the regular season, both Wittenberg basketball programs traveled to Wooster on Saturday to take on the Scots, continuing on that tradition.
The Tiger women closed out the season with their tenth conference loss, finishing 10-15 overall. After the weekend, Wittenberg Women’s Basketball still stands tall to Wooster, leading the all-time series 56-11 since 1983.
Defensively, Wittenberg was on par with its performance all season long. The Tigers grabbed more rebounds and allowed fewer points than the team usually has during the season. On top of that, Wittenberg forced 22 steals of 31 Wooster turnovers, led by seniors Bobbie Clayton and Riley McDonald, who had four each. Senior Michelle Brunswick also pulled down 10 rebounds; this was her seventh game grabbing double-digit rebounds this year.
The Tigers just couldn’t turn things around on the opposite end of the court, however, shooting a little over 20 percent from the floor. The women were unable to capitalize offensively, making only 13 shots of 58 attempts all night. Leading the team was Brunswick and McDonald, scoring 10 and nine points, respectively.
Saturday marked Brunswick’s second time this season achieving a double-double, and her fourth career double-double. The senior was able to do so with her contribution of 10 points and 10 rebounds. Her last double-double night was on Jan. 18 against Ohio Wesleyan.
Although no comment was given by the team in regards to the loss, the Tigers changed its focus as the team moves into the postseason. The women travelled to Gambier on Feb. 21 to match up against the Ladies of Kenyon for the first round of the North Coast Athletic Conference tournament.
Wittenberg Men’s Basketball challenged Wooster later Saturday evening, also falling to the Scots, 99-71. Saturday’s loss extends the Wooster win margin to four, the new all-time series record being 55-59 since 1911. At the end of the regular season, the Tigers are seeded fourth in the conference with an overall record of 17-8.
Senior Cody Phillippi had an extraordinary night against the Scots. On top of his three assists and two steals, Phillippi shot 60 percent from the floor. With the addition of going 10 for 10 on free-throws, he was able to accumulate 23 points, matching his season high against Wooster.
Wittenberg’s largest lead was four points early in the first half, but the team was able to stay connected to the Scots, closing the half only down by eight. Although Wittenberg showed strong defense to keep the ball on the perimeter, Wooster was able to knock down three unanswered three-point field goals within the first two minutes of the second half, extending the scoring margin to 17.
Questionable calls against both teams and the spirit of rivalry continued as an equal amount of boos and cheers came from the small patch of fans wearing Wittenberg red and the possibly intoxicated Wooster students in the stands across the way. Even on the court, the players fought it out until the end for the win.
Five minutes into the second half, freshman guard Jordan Pumroy left the game early, holding his elbow after being thrown to the floor, landing hard and slow to get up. Later in the half, one of Wooster’s forwards looked winded, complaining to the referee that he had been punched in the stomach. In both situations, no fouls were called.
The men’s team had no comment to give either after the devastating loss. The gears have changed, however, and they looked to focus more on the NCAC championship quarterfinal against Hiram at home on Feb. 22.