The sweet smell of victory filled the air of the Pam Evans Smith Arena this last Saturday evening, with a Wittenberg win over rival College of Wooster with a score of 82 to 77 after the men’s basketball game went into overtime.
“The atmosphere was so cool, and really gave us energy at times,” said junior guard and team captain, Cody Philippi. “It’s always fun winning one like that in front of your family, friends and alums.” The home side was filled with students, families and fans alike, all dawning their “flying W’s” for the Code Red game.
“It was awesome that everyone came and supported the biggest rivalry in D3 Men’s basketball,” Philippi said.
The first half was a close fight, with the Tigers leading by one at 34 to 33 at half. Wittenberg continued their lead into the second half, leading by nine points until 3:30, when Wooster came back on top at 63 to 61.
With two seconds remaining, the game was tied at 69 to 69.
Philippi got the team ahead at 78-74 in less than a minute into overtime, finally landing two more free throw shots to put the Tigers on top.
“Landon Hormann basically secured our win with a lay-up at the end of the game in overtime,” said Chris Sloneker, a six-foot-seven sophomore. “After a disappointing season last year, we, as a team, were determined to turn things around.”
And turn things around they did indeed, as the Wittenberg Men’s basketball team hadn’t beaten the Fighting Scots since 2012. Philippi, however, believes the North Coast Athletic Conference offers a chance at glory for every team, “…any different night can come up on top,” he said.
“I do not think that we have done anything different as far as preparation or our mindset. I think we were hungry for a win coming off of two losses, [and we] came together and got the job done as a team. That night was our night,” Philippi said.
The team experienced a similar triumph this past Wednesday, claiming a 78 to 70 win against Kenyon College. Such momentum is expected to continue for the rest of the season by members of the team.
“The team, including myself, believe that we can win the rest of our games,” Sloneker said. “Depending on how other teams do, we have a chance to win the regular season title, but if not, then we can still win the conference tournament and make it into the NCAA Division 3 tournament,” he added.
The team plays at Hiram on Saturday, Feb. 20, with live stats available at wittenbergtigers.com.