Men’s Basketball Claims NCAC 2019-2020 Championship

No. 5 Wittenberg Men's Basketball faces Hiram College on Feb. 22, 2020 for Senior Day.

On Saturday, Feb. 22 the men’s basketball team was fresh off their win against Wabash College last Wednesday, defeating the Little Giants 78-69. The Tigers celebrated senior day before defeating the Hiram College Terriers, 93-65. Prior to tip-ff the Tigers honored Jordan Pumroy (’20), Jake Bertemes (’20), Mark Fair (’20), Tanner Cowgill (’20) and Connor Seipel (’20) for their dedication and hard work they have put into the program since joining the team in 2016. Each senior was escorted onto the court by family members and then had the opportunity to start the game.

“Good to be back for our last regular season game,” Head Coach Matt Croci said before the game. “Really excited to honor our five seniors and kind of thank them for everything they’ve done for the program the last four years.”

The Tigers struggled to gain control of the game as the Terriers jumped out to a 7-1 lead. With 17:01 left in the half, Pumroy knocked down a three-point shot with an assist from Bertemes and clenched the lead for the Tigers, 8-7.

The Terriers were on the Tiger’s heels for most of the first half. There was 12:02 left in the half when Levi Boettcher (’22), drove a layup to the basket and increased the lead to 11 points, 13-24. There was a three-minute lapse where neither team was able to hold control of the ball and make a basket. With the clock ticking down, the Terriers were able to put up enough points to regain the lead with 2:09 left. They didn’t get to hold onto the lead for long, Bertemes came in with a jumper followed by a layup from Ridge Young (’22) that gave the Tigers a little breathing room, 41-37.

With four seconds left, James Johnson (’21) sank a three-pointer with an assist from Rashaad Ali-Shakir (’21) that gave the Tigers a five-point lead, 44-39, going into halftime.

Coming out of the locker room, the Terriers had possession of the ball and attempted a layup, but Seipel pulled down the rebound and passed the ball to Bertemes who landed the layup. That was followed by four more points from Bertemes as well as a three-pointer from Johnson that increased the Tiger lead to 52-39.

With 6:21 left in the game, and a 82-49 point lead, the seniors all rejoined the floor and played together for four minutes. With all five seniors on the floor, the Tigers managed to put up six points and smiled a lot. When the team subbed out at 2:09, the gym erupted with applause as the seniors exited the floor together.

With the seniors off the floor, the Terriers attempted to close the gap and make a comeback with a three-pointer and four missed layups. But the Tigers’ weren’t releasing their hold on the lead. Will Swartz (’22), Adam Porter (’21) and Cooper Lewis (23) managed seven points between the three of them and kept the Terriers at bay cinching the 93-65 victory that was win 24 for the Tigers this season.

Looking at the statistics, Bertmes lead in points with 22, Seipel lead in rebounds with 15 and Bertemes snagged the assists lead with five. The Tigers pulled down 40 rebounds, managed 30 points off of turnovers had 48 points in the paint with 46 points from the bench.

This season the Tigers went undefeated at home and lost only one game on the road to Wooster back in January. They average 82.4 points and 36.4 rebounds per game. They are currently shooting 49.1 percent from the floor, 76.4 percent from the free-throw line and 37.4 percent from behind the three-point line.

Up next, the Tigers will be hosting Ohio Wesleyan University for the NCAC Quarterfinals on Tuesday, Feb. 25 with tip-off slated for 8 p.m. If the Tigers win, they will move on to NCAC Semifinals and play the victors of the DePauw University and Oberlin College game.

About Alexis Poliseno 96 Articles
Alexis Poliseno is the Managing Editor for The Torch this year. She is an education major seeking a teaching license in both early childhood (P-3) and as an intervention specialist (K-12). She has been on the staff since January of 2017.

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