DePauw men finished after loss to Wittenberg
The playoff fate of DePauw men's basketball fell into jeopardy following a 63-61 loss to Wittenberg University in the semifinals of the NCAC tournament Friday night.
"That was a real heartbreaker last Friday night," said senior Camron Burns. "If we'd beaten them, I think we would have been guaranteed in the tournament."
Things started well for the Tigers who held a 12-6 lead over the Tigers of Wittenberg after senior Michael Wilkison's three-pointer. Junior Bob Dillon played a key role in the early run with six points and a steal.
However, things would even out and the remainder of the half proved to be a back and forth contest with three lead changes and five ties.
The two evenly matched teams went into halftime tied with 35 points each.
Both squads got off to slow starts in the second half. It took almost two and a half minutes for junior Tommy Fernitz to make the first field goal of the half that gave DePauw a two-point lead.
Just like the first half, the final 20 minutes were evenly fought. With just over five minutes to play, Wittenberg stretched their lead to four.
However, the Tigers battled back with 2:16 left to play in the game. Fernitz drew a foul on a completed layup. His free throw completed the three-point play and gave the Tigers a 58-57 lead.
The DePauw's shooting that had carried the team for much of the season then went cold at a crucial time. The Tigers missed their next three shot attempts and were forced to intentionally foul Wittenberg to stay in the game.
Wilkison sunk a three-pointer with under a second to play and made the score 63-61 in favor of Wittenberg, but it proved to be too little too late as the other Tigers would run out the clock and advance to the NCAC Championship game.
"As a senior that makes it hard for me personally," said Burns. "We'd also beaten Wittenberg the last two times we played them and that adds to the difficulty of the loss."
Fernitz led the Tigers in scoring with 20 and came one rebound shy of a double-double. First-year Luke Lattner chipped in with 15 points off of the bench.
The key to Wittenberg's victory was their domination on the boards. The Tigers of Wittenberg out rebounded DePauw by seven and didn't allow any second chance points.
Despite having a record of 19-8, the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Committee did not extend an invitation to the Tigers to the NCAA national tournament.
The loss marked the second straight year that Wittenberg has ended DePauw's hopes of a tournament bid in the NCAC tournament.
For DePauw women, NCAC title is only first step
With weekend wins over Kenyon College and Denison University, the DePauw University women's basketball team punched their ticket to the NCAA Division III tournament starting next weekend.
Last Friday night, the Tigers took on the Kenyon College Ladies in the semifinals of the NCAC tournament. Following a back and forth opening ten minutes, the Tigers pulled away and earned an 88-60 win.
"I think Kenyon is a really great team so we had to be really ready and focused to play them," said junior Emma Ondik. "It's never easy to pull away quickly against a good team, so we definitely wanted to come out ready to play."
The Ladies came out playing well and held a two-point lead over the Tigers with just over nine minutes to play in the opening half.
However, it didn't take the fourth-ranked Tigers long to get rolling. A 22-4 run to close the first 20 minutes solidified the DePauw lead at halftime.
From there the Tigers were off and running. DePauw outscored the Ladies by 12 in the second half and went on to win by 28 points.
Junior Savannah Trees led the way for the Tigers with 23 points and senior Alison Stephens snatched 14 rebounds. Senior Alex Gasaway dropped 17 points and pulled in 10 rebounds on her way to a double-double.
The Tigers advanced to the NCAC Championship Game against the Denison Big Red last Saturday night.
Unlike the game against Kenyon, the Tigers got off to a fast start and raced out to a 12-2 lead in the first five and a half minutes. DePauw would extend the lead to 17 by halftime.
Not much would change for the Big Red in the second half. Denison closed the deficit to 15, but couldn't get any momentum going. DePauw went on to win 69-41. The 28-point win marked the largest margin of victory in the 30-year history of the NCAC tournament.
"Saturday's game was just one step closer to our final goal," said Gasaway. "It was good to win and it was a necessary win."
DePauw will host the first and second rounds of the tournamet. They look to begin their defense of last year's National Championship against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps College this Friday night.
"We are all thrilled that we were able to reach our goal of being conference champs," said Ondik. "However, our season is not over and we have much higher aspirations."