Wooster sophomore Mitch Balser (Centerville, OH/Centerville) threw an inbounds pass off of a North Central College defender and buried the ensuing three-pointer with 8.6 seconds remaining to pull the Scots within three, 75-72, but the Fighting Scots had to play catch-up all night, and could never pull ahead during a 77-72 loss to the Cardinals in the first round of the NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Tournament at Collier Arena on the campus of Hanover College in Indiana.
The game marked the conclusion of the fine careers of seniors Dan Fanelly (Uniontown, OH/Green) and Milt Davis (Cincinnati, OH/Colerain). Wooster advanced to the NCAA Div. III Tournament each year during their careers, won the NCAC regular season championship twice, won two NCAC Tournaments and won 94 games overall (94-27).
In his final game with the Scots, Fanelly led all scorers in the game with 23 points after shooting 10-of-13 from the field, Jagger Anderson paced the Cardinals in the win with a near triple-double after tallying 17 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds.
For the first time since 2014 and the 16th time overall, The College of Wooster Fighting Scots captured the NCAC Men’s Basketball Tournament title following a 76-72 win over Ohio Wesleyan on Saturday (2/25) afternoon at Branch Rickey Arena in Delaware, Ohio. The win in the title game not only gave the Scots their league-leading 16th tournament title, but it also marked the 800th win for head coach Steve Moore, making him just the 18th coach in NCAA history (all divisions) to reach the prestigious milestone. The Scots advanced to the title game for the 24th time in history after topping seventh-seeded Wabash (11-15), 89-68, in the quarterfinals and third-seeded Denison (22-5), 87-77, in the semifinals. OWU made its trek to the title game by defeating eighth-seeded Kenyon (5-21), 89-81, in the quarters and knocking off fourth-seeded Wittenberg (18-9), 77-68, in the semis.
Following the completion of the title game, Wooster senior post Dan Fanelly (Uniontown, OH/Green) was named the Al Van Wie award winner as the tournament MVP. Simply put, Fanelly was sensational in the title game as he topped his season-high total with 34 points after shooting 11-of-18 from the field and 10-of-13 from the free throw line. Fanelly, who also had nine rebounds in the title game, was just as dominant in Wooster’s 87-77 semifinal win over Denison with 32 points and eight rebounds on 10-of-17 shooting from the field. Fanelly was joined on the all-tournament team by junior teammate Spencer Williams (Warrensville Hts., OH/Orange), Ohio Wesleyan senior post Ben Simpson (Lake Bluff, IL/Lake Forest), Ohio Wesleyan junior guard Nate Axelrod (Dublin, OH/Coffman), Denison senior post Jett Speelman (Granville, OH/Newark Catholic) and Wittenberg senior guard Cody Phillipi (Xenia, OH/Xenia).
For the first time since the 2009-10 season, the NCAC will be sending just one team to the NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Tournament as the Fighting Scots earned the league’s automatic berth by winning the conference tournament. This year also marks the first time since the 1992-93 season that the NCAC regular season champion was left out of the national tournament.
The Scots, who are making their 15th-straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament and the 26th overall, will travel to Hanover College in Indiana for its first- and second-round pod. Wooster will meet North Central (IL) (17-10), the automatic qualifier out of the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin, in the opening round on Friday night. The other first-round game will feature Hanover (23-2), the automatic qualifier out of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference, and Westminster (MO) (19-8), the automatic qualifier out of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The first-round winners will meet in the second round on Saturday (3/4) with a berth into the sectional round on the line.
This will be just the second meeting all-time between Wooster and North Central, with the Fighting Scots winning the first meeting back in the 1978-79 season by a score of 103-73. In possible second-round matchups, the Scots are 4-3 all-time against Hanover and would be facing Westminster (MO) for the first time in history.
The sectional rounds will also be played on campus sites the following weekend, March 10-11, while the semifinals and championship game will once again be played at the Salem Civic Center in Salem, Virginia, on Friday and Saturday, March 17-18.
The Fighting Scots have advanced to the third round of the national tournament in 10 of the last 18 seasons, including advancing to the championship game in 2011, where they were upended by St. Thomas (MN), 78-54. In last year’s tournament, Wooster posted three-straight wins over Lancaster Bible, 96-83, Endicott, 91-83 (OT), and SUNY-Oswego, 66-65, before being eliminated by Christopher Newport in the sectional finals by an 81-61 margin. The Fighting Scots have compiled an overall record of 34-26 in NCAA Div. III Postseason play.
Friday, March 3
|North Central (IL) 77, Wooster 72|