It has been a rollercoaster ride for the Wittenberg men’s basketball team over the last month. The Tigers were riding high over break, winning the Charles B. Zimmerman Memorial Classic and then rallying from a 22 point deficit against nationally ranked Ohio Wesleyan in one of the greatest comebacks in program history.
These victories allowed Wittenberg to move up to the ninth spot in the national rankings, but the high ranking wouldn’t last long. The Tigers had been walking a tight rope in their last few victories of 2013, and the check finally came due in 2014. Wittenberg lost 72-46 to DePauw and then fell in a close contest to Wooster in back-to-back games. The team then responded by winning three straight against weaker conference opponents before their home contest on Saturday against Denison.
Wittenberg entered the home contest with Denison at (15-3) overall and (9-2) in the North Coast Athletic Conference. The Tigers found themselves in a four way tie for first place with Wooster, Ohio Wesleyan and DePauw. It was important for the team to get a win before their tough upcoming trip to Ohio Wesleyan. Denison came into the game at (8-10) overall and in sixth place in the conference. The Tigers had already demolished Denison earlier in the season, 97-69.
Unfortunately, the Tigers didn’t find the going as easy on offense this time around, as Denison pulled off the upset, winning 63-60. Wittenberg simply didn’t seem interested on either end of the floor and it showed at on the scoreboard. The Tigers did have a chance to tie the game late, but the three point attempt was off the mark.
Senior Scott Masin led the team 14 points and 11 rebounds and was tough to stop inside. Senior guard Zack Leahy scored 13 points, grabbed five rebounds and dished two assists. Fellow senior Cole Bond had eight points, followed by freshman Shane Edwards who also scored eight off the bench.
The Tigers now face a must win situation on Wednesday when the team travels to take on Ohio Wesleyan. Wittenberg has to defeat the Bishops to have any chance at all of staying in the conference championship hunt. The team currently sits in a tie for third with DePauw behind Wooster and Ohio Wesleyan.
Masin has dominated the competition all season long, and is in the running for conference player of the year and All-American honors. Masin is fourth in the conference in scoring and third in rebounds, with 15.8 and 8.6, respectively. Senior Steve Newell leads the conference in three point percentage, and has a chance to break his own school record for shooting percentage in a season. Leahy has returned from a severe ankle sprain to continue to create shots for his teammates, and is second in the conference in assists.
After the big mid-week game, the Tigers travel to Oberlin on Saturday, February 8 for a rematch with the Yeomen.