Denison Captures First NCAC Tournament Title

Denison Captures First NCAC Tournament Title

For the first time in program history, Denison (17-11) has won the NCAC Men’s Basketball Tournament after the fourth-seeded Big Red knocked off the second seed Wooster (21-7) by a 92-81 margin in overtime on Saturday night (2/27) at Branch Rickey Arena on the campus of Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio. Denison 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 combines, 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.

As tournament champions, the Big Red have earned the NCAC’s automatic big into the NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Tournament. The national tournament’s selections will be made on Monday, February 29th, with first-round play scheduled to begin on March 3rd.

To listen to Wooster head coach Steve Moore’s postgame comments, click here.

To listen to Denison junior Jett Speelman’s postgame comments, click here.

To listen to Denison junior David Meurer’s postgame comments, click here. 

To listen to Denison head coach Bob Ghiloni’s postgame comments, click here.

2016 All-Tournament Team

Kelvin Jones, Hiram
Matt Jeske, Ohio Wesleyan
Dan Fanelly, Wooster
Josh Kipfer, Wooster
Jett Speelman, Denison 

Al Van Wie Award (MVP)
David Meurer, Denison

Ohio Wesleyan Tournament Site

Quarterfinals:   Semifinals:   Championship:

Tuesday, Feb. 23

  Friday, Feb. 26
(at Ohio Wesleyan)
  Saturday, February 27
(at Ohio Wesleyan)
#1 Ohio Wesleyan 100, #8 Wabash 80 {Box}
  Wooster 92, Hiram 79 {Box}
  Denison 92, Wooster 81 - OT {Box}
#2 Wooster 78, #7 Oberlin 63 {Box}
  Denison 95, Ohio Wesleyan 85 {Box}
  Championship Photos
#3 Hiram 95, #6 Kenyon 87 {Box}
  Semifinal Photos    
#4 Denison 81, #5 Wittenberg 75 {Box}
Bracket -- Stats -- Tickets  -- Directions  --  History

Semifinal Recaps:

Second-seeded Wooster (21-6) secured its spot in the championship game of the NCAC Men’s Basketball Tournament for the 24th time in program history following a 92-79 victory over third-seeded Hiram (19-8) on Friday night at Branch Rickey Arena. The Fighting Scots closed the first half with nine unanswered points, including six from Spencer Williams (Bedford, OH/Orange), to break a 34-34 tie and construct their largest lead of the game to that point at 45-34. Wooster scored on the opening possession of the second, then had to fend off Hiram. The Terriers most significant stretch saw it quickly trim a 10-point deficit two, thanks in part to back-to-back J.J. Woodson (Oakwood Village, OH/Bedford) 3-pointers. That however was as close as Hiram would get, as Wooster responded with a 13-1 run to help secure the 13-point victory. Among the statistical keys were Wooster outrebounding the Terriers 49-35 and making 27-of-33 free throws (.818), compared to 16-of-27 (.593). Wooster senior Josh Kipfer (Wadsworth, OH/Wadsworth) recorded a career-high 18 rebounds and 17 points to lead the Fighting Scots. Williams ended the night with 20 points and freshman Reece Dupler (Newark, OH/Lakewood) add 17 points to vault Wooster into its 19th NCAC Tournament Championship game in the last 20 years. For Hiram, Woodson closed his career with a 27-point outing and Kelvin Jones (Sheffield Lake, OH/Brookside) notched a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Listen to Hiram head coach Chris Kibler’s postgame comments here.

Listen to Wooster senior Josh Kipner’s postgame comments here.

Listen to Wooster head coach Steve Moore’s postgame comments here.

In the second semifinal game on Friday night at Branch Rickey Arena, fourth-seeded Denison (16-11) hit 20-of-27 field goals in the second-half and hit key free-throws down the stretch to upset top-seeded Ohio Wesleyan (24-3) by a 95-85 margin. With the win, the Big Red have advanced to their second NCAC Tournament Championship game in program history and will square off against second-seeded Wooster at 5:00 p.m., a rematch of the 2012 final. The two teams battled throughout the entire 20 minutes of the first period. Denison held the largest lead of the half at nine points, but it was the home team that entered the locker room with a 39-38 edge. Trailing by one at 72-71, Denison went on an impressive 14-4 run over the next 2:40 that turned the deficit into three-possession lead. The Bishops pulled to within six twice inside the final 1:12, but free throws from David Meurer (Granville, OH/Newark Catholic) and Jett Speelman (Granville, OH/Newark Catholic) locked up the 10-point victory. The Big Red shot a season-high 59 percent (31-for-67) from the field which included a 20-for-27 (74 percent) showing in the second half. Denison had a balanced attack from 3-point range as eight different players knocked down a triple en route to going 10-for-18 (56 percent) from beyond the arc.  The Big Red dominated the glass 48-18, which include 15 offensive rebounds that resulted in 20 second-chance points. DU also outscored the Bishops in the paint 52-44. Speelman led all scorers with 26 points to go along with 10 rebounds resulting in his second double-double of the season. Meurer followed with 14 points, five assists, and three steals. Matt Jeske (Glen Ellyn, IL/Glenbard South) and Claude Gray (Avon,OH/Avon) paced Ohio Wesleyan with 23 and 20 points, respectively, while Nate Axelrod (Dublin, OH/Coffman) finished with 11 and six assists.

Listen to Ohio Wesleyan head coach Mike DeWitt’s postgame comments here.

Listen to Denison junior Jett Speelman’s postgame comments here.

Listen to Denison head coach Bob Ghiloni’s postgame comments here.

Quarterfinal Recaps:

Top-seeded Ohio Wesleyan (23-3) eclipsed the century mark for the third time this season in a 100-80 victory over eighth-seeded Wabash (13-13) in the opening round of the 2016 NCAC Men's Basketball Tournament. The Little Giants did hold an early five-point edge, 20-15, at the 13:08 mark on a three ball from freshman Roy Duncan (Washington, IN/Barr Reeve), but the Bishops quickly regained the lead, 23-20, with 11:10 showing on the clock with a three-pointer of their own from sophomore guard Seth Clark (Lewis Center, OH/ Olentangy). Wabash pulled within six, 48-42, on a trifecta from freshman guard Johnny Jager (Bloomington, IN/South) with 1:32 left in the half, but OWU responded with three-straight connections from beyond the arc to take a 57-42 lead into half. OWU continued to apply the pressure in the second-half, leading by as many as 27 points on several different occasions to secure the 20-point opening-round victory over the Little Giants. Sophomore guard Nate Axelrod (Dublin, OH/Coffman) paced OWU with 30 points after shooting 5-of-9 from beyond the arc, while junior post Ben Simpson (Lake Bluff, IL/Lake Forest) collected a double-double for the Bishops with 25 points and 10 boards. Jager led the way for Wabash with 15 points, while senior forward Daniel Purvlicis (Noblesville, IN/Noblesville) just missed out on a double-double in his final collegiate game with 12 points and eight rebounds. 

Second-seeded Wooster (20-6) led wire-to-wire in a 78-63 victory over seventh-seeded Oberlin (12-14) in the quarterfinal round of the NCAC Men's Basketball Tournament. The Scots scored the first 12 points of the game and built their biggest lead of the opening stanza, 36-19, with 1:52 left in the half on a jumper from freshman guard Mitch Balser (Centerville, OH/Centerville). The Scots extended their lead in the second half, leading by as many as 24, 52-28, with 12:29 showing on the clock en route to earning the 15-point victory over the Yeomen. Sophomore guard Spencer Williams (Bedford, OH/Orange) led the Scots with 17 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field, while junior Dan Fanelly (Uniontown, OH/Green) notched a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. A pair of Yeomen hit the 15-point mark in the loss, including senior center Randy Ollie (Evanston, IL/Evanston) and junior guard Jack Poyle (Avon, OH/Avon), while Ollie also led Oberlin on the glass with seven rebounds. Wooster dominated Oberlin on the glass, 46-33, while also holding a 19-9 advantage in bench points. 

History was made in Hiram, Ohio, on Tuesday night as the third-seeded Terriers (19-7) picked up their first-ever victory in the NCAC Tournament with a 95-87 triumph over sixth-seeded Kenyon (11-15). After leading 49-42 at half, the Terriers saw their lead quickly diminish as the Lords opened the second half on a 15-2 run, capped off by a layup from freshman guard Matt Shifrin (Wilton, CT/Wilton) with 15:54 showing on the clock. The Lords maintained the lead over the next 10 minutes of action, building their biggest lead, 80-73, with 5:58 remaining in the game on a three-pointer from Shifrin. However, the Terriers quickly found their hot hand and drained three-straight shots from long distance over the next minute-and-a-half, finally regaining the lead, 82-80, with 4:26 left in the contest on a three-pointer from senior J.J. Woodson (Oakwood Village, OH/Bedford). The Terriers, who opened the game on a 21-4 run, sealed the historic victory by draining 5-of-6 free throw attempts in the final minute of the contest. Despite being outshot by the Lords in all three categories, Hiram was able to make its presence felt in the paint as the Terriers outrebounded the Lords, 59-42, and also held a 26-16 edge in second-chance points. Leading that charge in the paint for the Terriers was sophomore Kelvin Jones (Sheffield Lake, OH/Brookside) with 21 points and a game-high 17 rebounds, while classmate Paul Ortiz (Canton, OH/McKinley) poured in 20 points after knocking down 5-of-12 three-point attempts. Kenyon senior Tim Connolly (San Francisco, CA/Stuart Hall), who entered the game as the NCAC's leading scorer with 489 points, capped off his collegiate career with a 26-point performance, while classmate Brien Comey (Westport, CT/Green Farms Acad.) led the Lords on the glass with a season-high 16 rebounds. 

In the final quarterfinal matchup in the 2016 NCAC Men's Basketball Tournament, fourth-seeded Denison (15-11) booked its ticket to the semis for the first time since 2012 with an 81-75 victory over fifth-seeded Wittenberg (14-12). It was a defensive struggle early on as the two teams combined for just 11 points in the first six minutes of action, with the Tigers leading 6-5 at the 14:04 mark of the opening stanza. From that point on the Big Red gained the upper hand in the first half and led by as many as 13, 36-23, with 2:06 remaining on the clock on a three-pointer from senior John Cheng (Elmhurst, IL/Immaculate Conception), before ultimately taking a 36-28 lead into intermission.  Wittenberg chipped away at DU's lead by opening the second half on a 12-4 run, trailing by just two, 42-40, with 15:54 showing on the clock after junior wing Jaelin Williams (Springfield, OH/Shawnee) connected on a shot from beyond the arc. The tight back-and-fourth affair continued for much of the second half, culminating in a 73-73 tie with 2:30 left in the game. Denison junior wing Matthew Bauer (Winnetka, IL/Loyola Acad.) broke the tie on a three-pointer with 2:09 left, while classmate David Meurer (Granville, OH/Newark Catholic) landed the final blow by converting a layup with 1:18 left in the game to put DU up by five, 78-73. Meurer led the Big Red in the scoring column with 24 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field, while Bauer wasn't far behind with 19 points after draining 5-of-6 three point attempts. Williams led the Tigers with 17 points and four rebounds, while junior Cody Phillipi (Xenia, OH/Xenia) and sophomoreGarrett Dorfman (Durham, NC/Northern Durham) also finished in double figured with 13 and 12 points, respectively.


Ohio Wesleyan (15-3, 22-3) and Wooster (15-3, 19-6) have shared the 2016 NCAC men's basketball title, marking the first time the NCAC has had co-champions on the men's side since the 1992-93 season. Wooster leads all NCAC men's squads with 17 titles all-time, while the Bishops now have six conference championships to their name. Wittenberg is second in the NCAC with 11 titles, while Allegheny is the only other team to have won a conference championship with four all-time. The Battling Bishops and Gators shared the title in both 1988 and 1986, while Allegheny also shared the crown with Wooster in 1989 and Wittenberg in 1993.

OWU has earned the top seed in the 2016 NCAC Men's Basketball Tournament via a conference policy tiebreaker over Wooster. The tournament begins with quarterfinal games at campus sites on Tuesday (2/23) evening. The seeding follows the regular season standings with the top four seeds hosting quarterfinal contests.

The Battling Bishops host the eight seed Wabash (7-11, 13-12) and the second-seeded Fighting Scots will host seventh-seeded Oberlin (7-11, 12-13). In the other quarterfinal matchups on Tuesday night, third-seeded Hiram (12-6, 18-7) hosts sixth-seeded Kenyon (8-10, 11-14), while fourth-seeded Denison (9-9, 14-11) entertains fifth-seeded Wittenberg (9-9, 14-11). All quarterfinal game times will be announced on Monday (2/22).

Tuesday's winners will advance to the semifinals on Friday at the site of the highest remaining seed to emerge from the quarterfinal round.

In low capacity gyms (HIR, DEN, OWU), the semifinal games will be played at 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., with the host playing in the later time slot. Please note, in this scenario the gym will be cleared in between games and separate tickets will be required for both contests. In high capacity gyms (WIT, WOO), the semifinal games will be played at 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. with the host institution playing in the later time slot. One ticket will be valid for both contests in high capacity gyms.

The championship game is set for Saturday (2/27) at 4:00 p.m. at the site of the semifinal contests. In addition, if Ohio Wesleyan hosts the championship game it will be played at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday due to the NCAC Indoor Track & Field Combined Events Championships. This year's tournament champion will receive an automatic bid to the 2016 NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournament, which beings with first-round play on March 6th.

In the event that one institution hosts both the men's and women's "final four", the women's semifinals will be played on Thursday (2/26) and the men's semifinals will be played on Friday. The championship games would then be played on Saturday with the women playing at 3:00 p.m. and the men at 7:00 p.m. In this scenario, the gym will be cleared in between games and separate tickets will be required for each contest.