The 2019 North Coast men’s basketball season came to a close on Saturday night with Wooster (24-6) and Wittenberg (24-6) both dropping hard-fought contests in the second round of the NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Tournament. The Fighting Scots dropped a 78-70 loss to Wheaton (Ill.) (21-8) and the Tigers fell to Guilford (23-7), 70-61.
Wooster trailed 38-33 at the half and was unable to outscore the Thunder in the final 20-minutes falling in the second round contest by eight points. Wheaton held the advantage in rebounds, 43-32, points in the paint, 22-18, and bench points, 17-14. The Fighting Scots shot 42.4 percent (25-of-59) from the floor and 40 percent (8-of-20) from behind the arc, while the Thunder shot 40.3 percent (25-of-62) from the field and 29.6 percent (8-of-27) from three.
Wooster junior Danyon Hempy (Waldo, OH/River Valley) netted a team-high 28 points, gathered five rebounds, dished two assists, earned two blocks and claimed one steal in the loss. Senior teammate Reece Dupler (Newark, OH/Lakewood) recorded 13 points, three boards, two assists and one steal, while sophomore Dontae Williams (Girard, PA/Girard) grabbed 10 rebounds, scored seven points, and tallied two assists and two steals.
Wittenberg was down by four after the first 20-minutes of play, 32-28, and was unable to comeback in the final half falling to the Quakers by nine in the second-round matchup.
Guilford held the advantage in rebounds, 46-25, and points in the paint, 34-16, while the Tigers’ reserves outscored the Quakers bench, 15-11. Wittenberg shot 41.4 percent (24-of-58) from the floor, while Guilford shot 45.2 percent (28-of-62) from the field.
Wittenberg sophomore James Johnson (Cincinnati, OH/Roger Bacon) netted a team-high 15 points, gathered five rebounds, dished four assists, and earned one steal in the loss. Junior teammate Jake Bertemes (Springfield, OH/Southeastern) netted 13 points, earned three steals, dished two assists and grabbed one board, while sophomore Rashaad Ali-Shakir (Cincinnati, OH/Purcell Marian) added nine points, three rebounds, and one assist off the bench.
Two North Coast Athletic Conference men's basketball teams claimed opening round victories in the 2019 NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournament on Friday night as Wooster (24-5) cruised to an 81-57 win over Baruch (22-6) and Wittenberg (24-5) earned a 100-88 victory over Emory (20-6). Both teams will now advance to the second round with 7:00 p.m. matchups on Saturday night that feature the Fighting Scots hosting Wheaton (Ill.) (20-8) and Wittenberg taking on Guilford (22-7) in Greensboro, N.C.
After starting the game down 5-2, Wooster used an 8-0 run to take the lead and run with it for the remainder of the first half going into the locker room with a 44-28 advantage. The Scots would then outscore the Bearcats 37-29 in the final stanza for the opening round victory. Wooster senior Reece Dupler (Newark, OH/Lakewood) would lead all scorers with 19 points to go along with six rebounds, four steals and three assists, while junior Danyon Hempy (Waldo, OH/River Valley) added 17 points, seven boards and two assists. Sophomore Dontae Williams (Girard, PA/Girard) recorded a double-double on the night for the Fighting Scots as he had a game-high 10 rebounds and netted 12 points while adding three assists and two blocks. Classmate Keonn Scott (Fort Lauderdale, FL/Cardinal Gibbons) came off the bench to tally 14 points, four rebounds, one steal and one assist. Wooster shot 54.2 percent from the field (32-of-59) and held the advantage in rebounds, 40-31, points in the paint, 40-26, and bench points, 27-14.
After being down by five points with 12:43 left in the first half, Wittenberg closed out the opening period on a 34-19 run and continued to roll in the second half en route to posting the 12-point victory over the Eagles. Three of Wittenberg's starters netted at least 20 points, led by junior Jake Bertemes (Springfield, OH/Southeastern) who finished the game with 22 points, two rebounds, two assists and one steal. Classmate Connor Seipel (Columbus, OH/Groveport, Madison) recorded 21 points, netting his 1,000th career point in the first half, adding six rebounds, one assist and one block, while sophomore James Johnson (Cincinnati, OH/Roger Bacon) scored 20 points, gathered seven rebounds and dished one assist. As a team, the Tigers shot 59.3 percent from the floor (35-of-59) and held a slight edge in rebounds, 27-26, and bench points 25-21.
Second-seeded Wittenberg (23-5) captured back-to-back NCAC Men's Basketball Tournament titles after knocking off top-seeded Wooster (23-5) by a 79-75 margin on Saturday afternoon at Timken Gymnasium in Wooster, Ohio.
Wittenberg opened the NCAC tournament on Tuesday with a 73-51 win over seventh-seeded Ohio Wesleyan in the quarterfinals, before securing its spot in the title game with an 89-75 victory over third-seeded Wabash in the semifinals on Friday night. Wooster advanced to the championship game after claiming a 91-89 win over eighth-seeded Allegheny in the quartefinals and a 73-52 semifinal victory over fourth-seeded DePauw. After recording 16 points, five rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block in the championship game Wittenberg sophomore James Johnson (Cincinnati, OH/Roger Bacon) collected the Al Van Wie Award as the tournament's most valuable player. In the three tournament games combined, Johnson scored 47 points, pulled in 13 rebounds, earned four steals, dished three assists and claimed two blocks. Joining Johnson on the 2019 NCAC Men's Basketball All-Tournament Team was junior teammate Connor Seipel (Columbus, OH/Groveport, Madison) along with DePauw sophomore Nick Felke (Plymouth, IN/Plymouth), Wabash junior Harrison Hallstrom (Naperville, IL/Naperville Central) and Wooster seniors Eric Bulic (Brunswick, OH/Brunswick) and Reece Dupler (Newark, OH/Lakewood).
The NCAC will now be sending multiple teams to the 2019 NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournament for the eighth time in the last nine years. NCAC Tournament champion Wittenberg earned the league's automatic bid into the field of 64, while Wooster earned one of the 21 available at-large invitations into the national tournament. The Tigers are making their 29th NCAA Div. III Postseason appearance, while the Scots landed on the Div. III bracket for the 17th-consecutive year and the 28th time overall.
Both teams will open play in the NCAA Tournament on Friday, March 1, highlighted by Wooster hosting a four-team pod at home, while Wittenberg will travel to Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C. for first- and second-round games. The Fighting Scots will host Baruch (22-5), the automatic qualifier out of the CUNYAC, in the first round on Friday at home and the Tigers will take on Emory (20-5), the automatic qualifier out of the University Athletic Association, in the first round on Friday at Guilford. Wittenberg and Emory will be meeting for the first time in history, while Wooster and Baruch will be playing for the second time overall with the Scots earning the win during their first meeting. During the 2010-11 regular season at the Bahama House/Best Western Aku Tiki Shootout in Daytona Beach, Fla., Wooster topped the Bearcats by a 79-77 margin. The Wooster pod will also feature a first-round matchup between Wheaton (Ill.) (19-8) and Hanover (21-6), while the other first round game in Greensboro, N.C. will feature the host Quakers (21-7) and Sewanee (22-6). First-round winners from each pod will meet in the second round on Saturday, March 3, with a berth into the sectional round on the line which are set for March 8-9.
Winners of the four sectional games will advance to the semifinals and finals March 15 and 16. The semifinals and finals will be conducted at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Wittenberg holds a 52-28 record all-time in NCAA postseason play, while Wooster enters play this weekend with a 35-28 all-time record in the Div. III national tournament.