College Basketball

Little Giants slide continues vs Denison 


It was only one piece of the pie, but it was the biggest piece, as cold three-point shooting doomed Wabash to a 73-65 loss to Denison.

Hitting a season-low four field goals from long range, the Little Giants drop their fifth straight game and fall to 7-7 overall and 3-1 in the conference, while the Big Red stay unbeaten in the league at 5-0 while moving to 9-5 on the season.

“It’s been a tough stretch,” Wabash coach Kyle Brumett said of both the losing streak and the loss to the Big Red, which is the first conference loss to Denison at home since 2017. “Four three’s is not what we need to be getting. We hit two of them in the first half and the coaches thought we would shoot better in the second half, and we came out and only hit two more. There were things out there for us, but in the first half we had some good passes but didn’t finish, and in the second, we took some shots instead of making the extra pass.”

After just under a month without a home game, the Little Giants had hoped to right the shooting slump, which saw Wabash lose one road conference game to Wittenburg and three others, including a holiday tournament and one to No. 17 Washington – St. Louis.

After an early Wabash lead, the Big Red went on an 11-0 run, highlighted by a couple of the nine three-pointers that Denison hit, and the home team never led again.

Shooting 65 percent from in close, Wabash fought back to within two points at 48-46 on an Avery Beaver drive and score with 12:35 left in the game.

The next nine were all tacked up by the visitors, however, and they kept a safe margin til the end of the game.

Beaver, the senior from Lafayette Jeff, finished with a game-best 18 points, his fifth straight game in double-figures.

“Avery is the only guy shooting well down this stretch,” Brumett noted. “He hasn’t let the defense speed him up. Everyone else has had their ups and downs. Our offense has been inconsistent, and our defense hasn’t stuck to the game plan. Our other problem in that yes, we want to shoot three’s better, but we can’t beat any good team with only five assists. We have been outstanding with our turnovers – we only had seven tonight, but our assist totals are horrendous.”

The Little Giants are fifth in the nation with only 9.6 turnovers a game, but the five helpers, like the four treys, were season-lows.

Nate Matelic was next in the scoring line for Wabash with 13 points, as the freshman capitalized on his second start. Vinny Buccilla added 11.

The Little Giants shot 45.6 percent from the floor on the strength of the close-in shooting. They were, however, 4-of-23 from beyond the arc.

Denison was led by Trevor Reed, as the freshman came off the bench to score 17 of his team’s 36 bench points. He was 5-of-6 from the floor, almost all within reach of the rim, and added a 6-of-10 performance at the line. Ricky Radtke added 14 points and had a team-best six rebounds.

The Big Red only had one more field goal, than Wabash, but they were plus-five in the shots from long range.

“We could have weathered the storm if we hadn’t given them the eight three’s in the first half,” Brumett said of the defense. “We knew we had to keep them from those long shots. We held them to one in the second half, and our guys battled the physical game with them. They banged on us and we banged on them.”

The Little Giants are right back on the road with a conference matchup at Wooster Saturday afternoon.

“Losing stinks,” Brumett said. “Everyone is trying to do the right thing. Our seniors are working so hard with the younger guys. We just can’t let things bother us. Don’t get frustrated with a missed shot, stop pressing on offense, don’t let our nerves and emotions get the best of us. We just have to find some consistency on offense and move on. 

The next home game for Wabash is Jan. 13 against Hiram.