College Basketball

Wabash moves into tie for 1st with sweep of DePauw


GREENCASTLE — The Wabash-DePauw rivalry was on took front and center stage again on Wednesday at the Little Giants traveled to Greencastle for the second matchup with their arch rivals. Both teams came in at 6-3 in the North Coast Athletic Conference in what was a log-jam of five teams tied for second. During the game, thanks to an Oberlin upset over NCAC leader Wittenberg 77-67, the winner between the Tigers and Little Giants would move into a tie for first place. When all was said and done, the Little Giants walked out of Greencastle with a 69-61 win to earn a sweep over the Tigers. The win was also the sixth in the last seven meetings for Wabash.

Two players that made the win happen were juniors Vinny Buccilla and Noah Hupmann. Buccilla scored 14 of his team-high 15 points in the second half while Hupmann rejected shot after shot at the rim and ended with a career-high six blocks. Those six blocks come after he set a career-high last Saturday with five in the win over Oberlin.

“These two games against DePauw this season has been the best we’ve probably ever guarded them during my time here,” Wabash coach Kyle Brumett said. “We’ve held them to 61 points in both games and we finished off this one a lot better than when they were at our place. This rivalry is a tough game and they did a really good job on the offense boards with a few of their guys. But when they did get those boards, we made it really hard for them to finish. I was happy with our physicality on that side of the ball.”

Buccilla who has had an up and down year for the Little Giants was glad to get back to what Wabash fans know he can be. When Wabash needed a spark on offense to begin the second half, it was Buccilla who had the hot hand and got them out to a comfortable lead. “It was tough sitting in that first half because I got into foul trouble, but my teammates just told me to come out an be aggressive in the second half,” Buccilla said. “I saw the first one go in  and after that I knew things were going to start to roll after that. We needed this one bad and I’m glad that we pulled it out. It wasn’t just me out there, Noah had a huge game with his blocks, and Josh (Whack) knocked down some big foul shots for us to seal it late. With us you have to pick your poison because we have so many guys who can score at anytime.”

For the game Wabash shot 20-57 (35.1%) from the field but the big difference was their threes compared to DePauw’s. 10-31 (32.3%) of the Little Giant threes found the bottom of the net with them also going 19-23 (82.6%) from the foul line. Wabash grabbed 40 rebounds in total and did a great job of only committing three turnovers. Along with Buccilla’s 15, Ahmoni Jones scored 11, Sam Comer 10, Rich Brooks and Josh Whack both scored eight , Avery Beaver seven, Gavin Schippert four, and Hupmann had two.

DePauw (11-8, 6-4 NCAC)  was without the services of their second leading scorer in senior Grant Niego (11.5 ppg). Sam Jacobs led all scorers in the game for with 17 for the Tigers in the loss. Kyle Lillwitz scored 12, Ronald Johnson 11, Reph Stevenson seven, Caleb Washington six, Grant Gohmann five, and Camden Brown three. The Tiger shot 24-62 (38.7%) from the field but only made half of the threes that Wabash did going 5-17  (29.4%). DePauw also made 11 fewer foul shots going 8-15 (53.3%) from the charity stripe. They grabbed 39 rebounds and only turned the ball over five times.

Brumett took time after the game to praise the play of Buccilla.

“People are going to have some fear when they see that he’s back to the old Vinny that we all know,” Brumett said. “Vinny is one of our best perimeter guys too and he can lock people down out there. I think he got just a little too aggressive and that’s what led to some of those first-half fouls. His second half though is what we need out of him and what we expect out of him and what he expects out of himself.”

The stage only gets bigger for the Little Giants  improve to 11-8 overall and  now are tied with Wittenberg, Denison, and Wooster at 7-3 in the NCAC. Wabash welcomes Wittenberg to Chadwick court on Saturday looking  to avenge a 75-62 loss earlier this season and keep atop the conference standings.

“We knew this was a big week coming in,” Brumett concluded. “We certainly didn’t want to look past this game but we’ve went on the road and won, it showed that we have some toughness in us. It’ll be a littler easier now to come back home to Chadwick on Saturday and get where we want it to be.”

The game at Chadwick court is slated for a 2 p.m. start