College Basketball

Little Giants survive late Tiger rally for bounce back win


It was a tale of two halves on Wednesday as Wabash Men’s basketball was back inside the friendly confines of Chadwick court, as they took on Wittenberg. Needing to keep pace in the North Coast Athletic Conference after a loss to rival DePauw on Saturday, Wabash could do no wrong in the first 20 minutes of the game leading 43-23, however Wittenberg wasn’t going down without a fight and a quick 9=0 run by the Tigers made the score 64-60 with 2:21 left to play. Thankfully the Little Giants were able to salt away the game at the free-throw line and walked away with a 72-62 win.

“When Wabash beats Wittenberg it’s a pretty big deal overall,” Little Giant coach Kyle Brumett said. “I was proud with how we came out of the gates in the first half after how the second half against DePauw went on Saturday. We were ready to go as soon as the ball went up, but we do have to be better at closing games out especially when you go on the road. If you have second halves like we did tonight, it’s usually going to end badly.”

While they hit them when it ultimately mattered to ice the game, Wabash struggled from the free-throw line going just 17-26 (65%). Also in the first half they had just a single turnover while they ended the night with 12 overall. Ahmoni Jones tied a game-high and led Wabash with 17 points and eight rebounds. Vinny Buccilla recorded a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Edreece Redmond added 11, and Josh Whack added eight. Freshman Gavin Schippert and Randy Kelly both scored seven while Styles McCorkle’s five and Avery Beaver’s four rounded out the scoring.

The Little Giants were playing without starting big Sam Comer who suffered an ankle injury in Saturday’s loss to DePauw. Kelly and Whack both saw extended minutes which is something that they haven’t experience before while Schippert also is getting his first taste of the rough schedule that is the NCAC.

“Josh had to carry a lot of the load with our guards tonight and Randy has barely played this season,” Brumett said of some of his guys who are still getting their feet wet. “Those guys along with Schippert were on the floor in the first half when we were playing so well. Sometimes we have to remind our guys that teams like this are really hard to beat. Wittenberg’s tradition is to beat everyone now we’re building that same tradition here.”

Overall for the game Wabash shot 26-50 (52%) from the field, and 3-13 (23%) to go along with their 17-26 from the line. Wittenberg ended the night shooting 23-60 (38%) from the floor, 2-13 (15%) from three and 14-18 (78%) from the line. They had two players in double figures as Trey Killens scored 17 and Josh Tolliver added 14.

The loss for the Tigers sees their record fall to 7-9 and 3-5 in the NCAC. Wabash improves to 13-4 overall and 6-2 in the conference. Other NCAC scores from a busy Wednesday included Ohio Wesleyan taking down DePauw 90-86 in overtime. Wooster took care of Denison 87-70, and Oberlin edged out Kenyon 58-57.

Ohio Wesleyan and Wooster stay tied atop the NCAC standing with records of 7-1. Wabash takes over sole possession of second place with their 6-2 mark while DePauw falls to third at 5-3.

Wabash is back in action on Saturday as they’ll hit the road to take on Oberlin.

“We squeaked it out at home against them at home earlier this year,” Brumett said of the upcoming re-match with the Yeomen. “It’s always hard in this conference but hopefully we can carry the things we did well tonight like defensive rebounding. Without Sam out there Vinny went out there grabbed 12. We’ll figure some things out ahead of time and look forward to tipping it at 2 on Saturday.”