NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Central

NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Central

Ohio Wesleyan (25-4) and Wooster (23-7) have both advanced to the Sectional Round of the 2016 NCAA Division Men's Basketball Tournament, marking the first time since 2012 that the NCAC has had two teams playing on the second weekend of the national tournament.

Following this weekend's action, the sectional final winners in both pods will advance to the national semifinals, which are set for Friday, March 18th, at the Salem Civic Center in Salem Virgina, while the 2016 National Championship Game will be played on March 19th in Salem.

Fourth-Round Recaps (3/12)

Wooster (24-8) saw its 2016 season come to a close on Saturday evening in the quarterfinal round of the 2016 NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Tournament with a 81-61 setback against Christopher Newport. The Captains (30-1) controlled the pace of play in the first half and took a 36-19 lead into halftime.  The Scots did pull within seven, 49-42, with 9:30 left in the game on a three ball from freshman Simon Texidor (Euclid, OH/VASJ), but the Captains pushed the lead back out to double digits in the final five minutes of the game en route to picking up the 20-point victory over the Scots. Sophomore guard Spencer Williams (Bedford, OH/Orange) led the Scots with 19 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field , while Marcus Carter paced the Captains with 22 points and seven rebounds.

Third-Round Recaps (3/11)

SUNY-Oswego Pod

Junior Dan Fannelly (Uniontown, OH/Green) sunk a pair of free throws with four seconds left in the game and SUNY-Oswego turned the ball over on its ensuing possession to lift Wooster (24-7) to a 66-65 victory over the Lakers in the third round of the 2016 NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Tournament on Friday night at Max Ziel Gymnasium in Oswego, New York. With the win, the Scots advance to the quarterfinal round of the national tournament where they will take on Christopher Newport (29-1) tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. in upstate New York. 

The Fighting Scots jumped out on front early on and led by eight, 17-9, just five minutes into the game on a layup from sophomore Alex Baptiste (Allonnes, France/Wasatch Acad., UT). The Lakers clawed back into the game and the two teams found themselves in a back-and-fourth affair over the final 15 minutes of the half, culminating in a narrow 39-35 Wooster lead at intermission. The Scots maintained their lead throughout the second half and seemed to pull away for good with 4:43 left on a layup from junior Milt Davis (Cincinnati, OH/Colerain); however, the Lakers scored the game’s next nine points and took a 63-61 advantage with 1:17 left on a layup from Mark Candelario. Fanelly then put the Scots back on top, 64-63, with 41 seconds left on an old fashioned three-point play, but the Lakers would pull ahead again with 17 seconds left on a pair of free throws from Brian Sortino. Following an Oswego timeout, Fanelly got the ball on the block and was fouled on his way up, leading to the two game-winning free throws in the final seconds of the contest. 

Fanelly logged his third double-double in the last four games with 26 points and 11 rebounds after shooting 10-of-15 from the field and 5-of-6 from the free throw line. Davis also reached double figures in scoring for the Scots with 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the field, while Sortino led the Lakers in scoring with 23 points.

Benedictine Pod

Ohio Wesleyan (25-5) saw its season come to a close on Friday night in the third round of the NCAA Tournament with a 97-84 loss against host and unbeaten Benedictine (29-0) in Lisle, Illinois. 

Despite the Bishops shooting 54 percent (34-of-63) from the field and 46 percent (11-of-24) from beyond the arc in the contest, Benedictine more than doubled up OWU on the glass, 54-26, and held a 31-8 edge in bench points to secure the 13-point victory. 

The two squads seemingly traded basket-for-basket in the first 20 minutes of the game as they were deadlocked at 42-42 at halftime. OWU came out strong in the second half and built a five-point lead, 61-56, at the 15:07 mark on a three-pointer from sophomore Nate Axelrod (Dublin, OH/Coffman). However, the Eagles quickly erased that lead and took a five-point advantage of their own at 73-68 with 9:59 left on a three ball from Shawn Soelter. The Eagles then stretched their lead out to 11, 82-71, with 5:58 left, only to see the Bishops cut it back down to six, 86-80, with 3:43 left in the game on a layup from junior Ben Simpson (Lake Bluff, IL/Lake Forest). However, Benedictine closed out the game on an 11-4 run to clinch the third-round victory over the Eagles. 

Axelrod led the Bishops in scoring with 27 points on 12-of-16 shooting from the field, while Simpson notched his 14th double-double of the season with 18 points and 12 rebounds. In addition, senior Claude Gray (Avon, OH/Avon) closed out his career at OWU with 11 points in 27 minutes of action. Four Benedictine players scored in double figures, led by Lucas Johnson with 23 points on 10-of-16 shooting from the field.

 
"Ohio Wesleyan"
Benedictine Sectional Pod
  "WOOSTER"
SUNY-Oswego Sectional Pod
Friday, March 11   Friday, March 11
Alma 70, St. Norbert 64   Christopher Newport 74, Keene St. 62
Benedictine 97, Ohio Wesleyan 84 {Box}   Wooster 66, SUNY-Oswego 65 {Box}
    Saturday, March 12
    Christopher Newport 81, Wooster 61 {Box}
 

Friday, March 4

  Friday, March 4
Lynchburg 82, Scranton 55   Wooster 96, Lancaster Bible 83 {Box}
Ohio Wesleyan 114, Pitt.-Greensburg 68 {Box}   Endicott 84, Catholic 76
Saturday, March 5   Saturday, March 5
Ohio Wesleyan 97, Lynchburg 94 (Box)   Wooster 91, Endicott 83 - OT (Box

 

Second-Round Recaps (3/5)

Ohio Wesleyan Pod

Ohio Wesleyan (25-4) attempted a school and arena record 50 3-point field goals and withstood a late rally from Lynchburg (23-7) as the Bishops held on for a 97-94 NCAA Div. III Championship second-round victory Saturday night at Branch Rickey Arena in Delaware, Ohio.

OWU carried a 10-point lead into the half in large part to sophomore Nate Axelrod (Dublin, OH/Coffman) who scored 20 of his 22 points in the first 20 minutes on 6-of-9 shooting including 4-of-7 from three.

Leading by five late in the second-half, Bishops' junior post Ben Simpson (Lake Bluff, IL/Lake Forest) scored on a putback to give Ohio Wesleyan a three-possession lead at 96-89 with 2:20 remaining, but the Hornets countered when Zack Burnett converted a three-point play off an A.J. Hamilton steal.  After forcing a 30-second violation, Lynchburg pulled to within 96-94 on Burnett's lay-in with 57 seconds left in regulation time.

On the next possession, Axelrod drove for a lay-in that didn't fall, and the Hornets cleared the rebound with a chance to tie. Sophomore guard Seth Clark (Lewis Center, OH/Olentangy) came up with a steal and was fouled, and Clark hit the first of two free throws for a 97-94 Bishop lead with 12 seconds left. Lynchburg's attempt at a game-pointer 3-pointer was off the mark as OWU held on for victory.

Axelrod, Clark, and Simpson scored 22 points apiece for Ohio Wesleyan, with Simpson grabbing a team-high 16 rebounds and Axelrod dishing out seven assists. Claude Gray (Avon, OH/Avon) added 20 points, giving the Bishops a quartet of 20-point scorers in a game.

In the sectional semifinals, Ohio Wesleyan will play Benedictine (28-0) at a location and time to be announced on Sunday.

Catholic Pod

Wooster dug itself out of an 11-point hole with about 5:00 left in regulation, piecing together an electrifying rally to force overtime, then steadily took control of the extra session as the Fighting Scots completed their comeback, 91-83 over Endicott, in Saturday night's NCAA Div. III Championship second-round meeting, played at Catholic University's DuFour Center.

Wooster (23-7) reaches the NCAA's sectional semifinals, or Round of 16, for the 10th time in 18 years and first since 2013.

Coming out of a timeout at the 4:58 mark down 70-59, the Scots closed on a 14-3 run including taking its first lead (73-72) since it was 7-6 thanks to a Reece Dupler (Newark, OH/Lakewood) layup with 23 seconds left. Next, Endicott drew a foul on the other end of the court and went to the line with 7.4 seconds to play. The Gulls missed the first, but made the second to tie it at 73, and Wooster's attempt at a game-winning 3-pointer was off the mark.

In extra time, Wooster used a quick six point run and made 8-of-9 free throws down the stretch to seal the outcome. Despite the Scots' poor early shooting, they finished at nearly 50 percent for the game (.493; 35-for-71), compared to Endicott's rate of .441 (26-for-59). Wooster had the rebounding advantage at 41-30.

Dan Fanelly (Uniontown, OH/Green)Spencer Williams (Bedford, OH/Orange), Dupler, and Mitch Balser (Centerville, OH/Centerville) accounted for more than 80 percent of the Scots' scoring, as they tallied 20, 19, 18, and 16 points, respectively. Dupler contributed eight rebounds and Balser five assists.

In the sectional semifinals, Wooster will play the State University of New York at Oswego (22-8) at a location and time to be announced on Sunday.

+++

First-Round Recaps (3/4)

Ohio Wesleyan Pod

Ohio Wesleyan (24-4) led wire-to-wire in a 114-68 home victory over Pitt.-Greensburg (19-10) in the opening round of the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournament on Friday night in Delaware, Ohio. The Bishops were in a tight battle with the Bobcats early on in the first half as OWU held just a two-point edge, 29-27, with 9:24 left in the opening frame. However, the Bishops found their groove on the offensive side of the ball and closed out the half on a 30-10 run to take a 59-37 lead into intermission.  The Bishops kept their foot on the gas throughout the second period, outscoring the Bobcats, 55-31, en route to running away with the opening round victory. All five Bishops' starters scored in double figures in the victory, led by sophomore guard Seth Clark (Lewis Center, OH/Olentangy) leading the charge with 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the field. Junior post Ben Simpson (Lake Bluff, IL/Lake Forest) was extremely efficient in the victory as he scored 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting in just 16 minutes of action. For the Bobcats, Mike Connelly came off the bench and led the squad with 20 points in 31 total minutes.

Catholic Pod

Wooster (22-7) improved to 32-25 all-time in the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournament after cruising to a 96-83 opening-round victory over previously unbeaten Lancaster Bible (27-1) on Friday night at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. The Fighting Scots, who are playing in the NCAA Tournament for a Div. III record 14th year in a row, controlled the pace of play in the opening half and took a 41-31 edge into halftime. Wooster maintained its double-digit advantage throughout the entire second half and led by as many as 23, 70-47, with 8:37 left in the game on a jumper from junior Milt Davis (Cincinnati, OH/Colerain) en route to securing the 13-point victory.  Junior Dan Fannelly (Uniontown, OH/Green) had a career nigh for the Scots as he nearly doubled his career-high scoring output with 45 points on a staggering 21-of-24 shooting performance from the field. Fannelly, who's previous career-high was 28 in the title game of the 2014 "Mose" Hole/Kiwanis Classic, also pulled down 12 rebounds in the win for his sixth double-double of the year. Davis was just as effective from the floor as finished the game with 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the field. As a squad, the Scots combined to shoot 59.1 percent (39-of-66) from the field in the opening-round victory. LBC was led by Bryce Williams with 29 points. 

John Carroll Pod

Denison (17-12) saw its late-season run come to an end in the opening round of the 2016 NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournament with a 74-60 loss against Alma (22-6) at John Carroll University in University Heights, Ohio. The Big Red, who qualified for the national tournament after winning their first NCAC Tournament in program history last weekend, trailed by nine at half, 38-29, and drew within five, 40-35, early in the second half on a layup by junior Jett Speelman (Granville, OH/Newark Catholic), but the Scots regained control of the game after that and held on for the 14-point victory. Speelman led the Big Red with 15 points, while senior Darius White (Columbus, OH/East) and junior David Meurer (Granville, OH/Newark Catholic) each chipped in 12 points apiece for DU. Alma's Jason Beckman led all scorers in the game with 17 points after shooting 6-of-11 from the field and 3-of-5 from beyond the arc.

+++

For the second year in a row, the fourth seed maneuvered its way through the NCAC Men's Basketball Tournament and was crowned the champion. This year, Denison earned its first NCAC Tournament title after collecting three-straight victories over 5th-seeded Wittenberg, 81-75, top-seeded Ohio Wesleyan, 95-85, and second-seeded Wooster, 92-81 (OT). Wooster advanced to the title game for the 23rd time after topping seventh-seeded Oberlin, 78-63, in the quarterfinals and third-seeded Hiram, 92-79, in the semifinals. Denison junior guard David Meurer (Granville, OH/Newark Catholic) earned the Al Van Wie award as the tournament's most valuable player after scoring 18 of his team-high 28 points in the second-half and overtime of the championship game. In the three tournament games combined, Meurer scored 66 points (22.0 ppg) and dished out 11 assists (3.6 apg), while shooting 60 percent (21-of-35) from the field and 84.2 percent (16-of-19) from the free throw line. Meurer was joined on the all-tournament team by teammate Jett Speelman (Granville, OH/Newark Catholic), Wooster junior Dan Fanelly (Uniontown, OH/Green), Wooster senior Josh Kipfer (Wadsworth, OH/Wadsworth), Ohio Wesleyan senior Matt Jeske (Glen Ellyn, IL/Glenbard South) and Hiram sophomore Kelvin Jones (Sheffield Lake, OH/Brookside)

The NCAC will now be sending three teams to the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournament for the fourth time in the last five years and the sixth time in league history. NCAC Tournament champion Denison (17-11) earned the league's automatic bid into the field of 62, while tournament runner-up Wooster (21-7) and Ohio Wesleyan (23-4) each earned one of the 20 available at-large invitations into the national tournament. The Big Red will be appearing in the national tournament for the first time since 1997, while Wooster is in the field of 62 for an NCAA Division III record 14th-straight season and Ohio Wesleyan landed on the bracket for the fifth year in a row. 

All three NCAC teams will open play in the NCAA Tournament on Friday night, highlighted by Ohio Wesleyan hosting a four-team pod in Delaware. Denison will travel to John Carroll University in University Heights, Ohio, for first- and second-round games, while Wooster will make the trip to Catholic University in Washington, D.C., for its first- and second-round pod. The Big Red will meet Alma (21-6), the automatic qualifier out of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association, in the first round on Friday at JCU, while the Fighting Scots will square off against Lancaster Bible (27-0), the automatic qualifier out of the North Eastern Athletic Conference, on Friday in D.C. Ohio Wesleyan will open play at its own Branch Rickey Arena on Friday against Pitt.-Greensburg (19-9), the automatic qualifier out of the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference. The John Carroll pod will also feature a first-round matchup between the host Blue Streaks (25-3) and Saint Vincent (22-6), while the other first-round game in Washington D.C. matches up host Catholic (22-5) against Endicott (18-10). The final opening round contest at OWU will feature Lynchburg (22-6) versus Scranton (19-7). Game times for all three sites will be posted on the NCAC website as soon as they are released. First-round winners from each pod will meet in the second round on Saturday (3/5) with a berth into the sectional round on the line. 

The sectional rounds will also be played on campus sites the following weekend, March 11-12, while the semifinals and championship game will once again be played at the Salem Civic Center in Salem, Virginia, on Friday and Saturday, March 18-19. 

The Fighting Scots have advanced to the third round of the national tournament in nine of the last 17 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 knocked off Misericordia, 84-59, in the opening round, before dropping a narrow 88-86 against Marietta in round two. The Fighting Scots have compiled an overall record of 31-25 in NCAA Div. III Postseason play. The Battling Bishops, winners of the 1988 national championship, hold an overall record of 8-5 in NCAA Tournament action after falling to St. Olaf, 90-78, in the opening round a year ago. The Big Red, who are making the program's second appearance all-time in the national tournament, dropped a 69-66 opening-round game at Hope in their only other appearance in the 1996-97 season.