North Coast men’s basketball had a great amount of success over the holiday break as league squads combined to post a 13-2 record against non-conference opponents, before the 2014 portion of the conference schedule picked back up on January 4th. NCAC play continues this week with three tilts on Wednesday and four more on Saturday.
ALLEGHENY went 1-2 over the holiday break, defeating Alfred, 89-79, in non-conference action on December 31st, before dropping back-to-back league games against DePauw, 61-49, and Wabash, 73-70, over the weekend. Senior Ryan Stanko (Alison Park, PA/Deer Lakes) was the Gators’ leading scorer in all three games and finished the week with 67 points (22.3 ppg) after shooting 51 percent (22-of-43) from the field, 47 percent (10-of-21) from beyond the arc and 93 percent (13-of-14) from the free throw line.
DENISON opened play over the holiday break with an 80-76 win over Earlham on December 30th, but was upended in league play against No. 2 Wooster on Saturday by a 100-75 margin. Senior wing Alex Longi (Cincinnati, OH/St. Xavier) scored 18 points in the win over Earlham and followed with a 16-point performance against the Fighting Scots. Longi currently sits at 850 career points and needs to average 10.7 points over his final 14 regular season games to join DU’s 1,000-point club.
DEPAUW won three games decided by four or fewer points during the current four-game winning streak, including a pair of double overtime wins over Kalamazoo, 81-80, and Hiram, 90-89. At 4-1 in NCAC competition, the Tigers are off to their best start in league play since joining the conference in the 2011-12 season. Junior Tommy Fernitz (Northbrook, IL/Glenbrook North) posted a pair of career-high performances over the holiday break with a 22-point effort over Kalamazoo in the championship game of the Tampa Bay Shootout and a 16-rebound performance in a 61-49 win over Allegheny. Fernitz, who averaged 18.3 points and 15.3 rebounds in four games over the break, was named the MVP of the Tampa Bay Shootout.
HIRAM opened its break schedule with a 95-87 win over Olivet at the Mount Union “M” Club Classic, but the Terriers then suffered three straight narrow losses against Adrian, 64-59, Wabash, 63-56, and DePauw, 90-89. Senior guard Aaron Stefanov (Stow, OH/Stow-Munroe Falls) led the Terriers with 40 points in the double overtime loss against DePauw. In four games over the break, Stefanov scored 93 points (23.3 ppg) after shooting 55 percent (32-of-58) from the field, 46 percent (11-of-24) from beyond the arc and 86 percent (18-of-21) from the free throw line.
KENYON traveled to New York City for the NYU Holiday Classic where the Lords opened play with a 76-73 win over US Merchant Marine Acad. on Friday, before falling to host NYU by a 60-44 margin on Saturday. Senior forward Brian Lebowitz (New York, NY/Riverdale) finished the two-day stretch with 27 points, 17 rebounds and five blocked shots. His five blocks on the week raised his season total to 25 and his career total to 137, which puts him second on the program’s all-time list.
OBERLIN knocked off Cairn, 101-69, in its only action over the holiday break. Four of the five Yeomen starters scored in double figures in the victory, including sophomore center Randy Ollie (Evanston, IL/Evanston) leading the way with a season-high 20 points.
OHIO WESLEYAN won the Defiance Purple & Gold Invitational after defeating No. 15 Marietta, 79-74, in the semifinals and Defiance, 75-62, in the championship game. Freshman guard Seth Clark (Lewis Center, OH/Olentangy) hit a key three-pointer with 55 seconds left to put the Bishops ahead for good in the upset victory over Marietta and than went 8-of-10 from the field and 9-of-10 from the free throw line en route to a season-high 26 point performance over Defiance in the championship game. Clark was named the tournament MVP for his efforts.
WABASH extended its current winning streak to three and picked up its first two NCAC wins of the season with back-to-back victories over Hiram, 63-56, and Allegheny, 73-70. Freshman guard Kyle Aiton (Newburgh, IN/Castle) scored a career-high 22 points against Hiram on Saturday and kept the momentum going with a 19-point effort against Allegheny on Sunday.
WITTENBERG, ranked 11th in the D3hoops.com Top 25, emerged triumphant at its own Charles B. Zimmerman Classic for the 26th time. The Tigers cruised to the title after defeating Grove City, 79-40, in the semifinals and Kean, 91-75, in the championship game. Senior post Scott Masin (New Carlisle, OH/Bethel) earned MVP honors at the event after posting his fifth and sixth double-doubles of the season with 11 points and 14 rebounds against Grove City and 12 points and 11 rebounds against Kean.
WOOSTER, ranked second in the D3hoops.com Top 25, opened the holiday break by winning its annual “Mose” Hole/Kiwanis Classic with wins over Thiel, 88-53, and Hanover, 63-53, before knocking off Denison, 100-75, on January 4th. Junior guard Xavier Brown (Bowling Green, OH/Bowling Green) earned tournament MVP honors with back-to-back 19 point performances and then produced a 15-point, five-rebound and four-assist outing in the league win over Denison.