Wooster Claims 16th NCAC Tourney Title

Wooster Claims 16th NCAC Tourney Title

For the first time since 2014 and the 16th time overall, The College of Wooster Fighting Scots have captured the NCAC Men’s Basketball Tournament title following a 76-72 win over Ohio Wesleyan on Saturday afternoon at Branch Rickey Arena in Delaware, Ohio. 

The win 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.

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.

2017 NCAC Men’s Basketball All-Tournament Team

Cody Phillipi, Wittenberg
Jett Speelman, Denison
Nate Axelrod, Ohio Wesleyan
Ben Simpson, Ohio Wesleyan
Spencer Williams, Wooster 

Al Van Wie Award (MVP) – Dan Fanelly, Wooster

Ohio Wesleyan Tournament Site
Quarterfinals:   Semifinals:   Championship:

Tuesday, Feb. 21

  Friday, Feb. 24
(at Ohio Wesleyan)
  Saturday, February 25
(at Ohio Wesleyan)
#1 Ohio Wesleyan 89, #8 Kenyon 81 {Box}
  Ohio Wesleyan 77, Wittenberg 68 {Box}    Wooster 76, Ohio Wesleyan 72 {Box}
#2 Wooster 89, #7 Wabash 68 {Box}
  Wooster 87, Denison 77 {Box}                  Championship Game Photo Gallery
#3 Denison 85, #6 DePauw 79 {Box}
              Semifinal Round Photo Gallery    
#4 Wittenberg 90, #5 Hiram 44 {Box}
Bracket -- Stats -- Tickets  -- Directions  --  NCAC Tournament Records


Semifinal Recaps:

In the first semifinal game of the 2017 NCAC Men’s Basketball Tournament, top-seeded Ohio Wesleyan (21-6) advanced to the championship game of the NCAC Tournament for the first time since 2013 following a 77-68 victory over fourth-seeded Wittenberg (18-9) on Friday night at Branch Rickey Arena in Delaware, Ohio. The Tigers scored the first two buckets of the game, but the Bishops quickly took control of the game and led 18-9 at the 11:05 mark on a layup from freshman post Grant Gossard (Westerville, OH/Olentangy Orange). Wittenberg cut the lead to three at 22-19 on a layup from freshman forward Connor Seipel (Columbus, OH/Groveport Madison) with 7:08 left in the half, but OWU closed out the half on a 13-7 run to take a 35-26 lead into intermission. The Bishops stretched their lead out to 15, 46-31, early in the second half on a shot from junior guard Seth Clark (Lewis Center, OH/Olentangy), only to see the Tigers settle in and force a tight back-and-fourth battle that culminated in a 62-59 OWU lead with 8:53 left on a old fashioned three-point play from Wittenberg junior post Chad Roy (Toledo, OH/Holland Springfield). OWU then went on a 12-4 run and went ahead 74-63 with 4:11 left in the game on a layup from senior post Ben Simpson (Lake Bluff, IL/Lake Forest) and maintained its edge over the final four-plus minutes for the nine-point win. Clark and Gossard led OWU in scoring with 17 points each, while Simpson notched his 14th double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Wittenberg senior guard Shane Edwards (Perrysburg, OH/Perrysburg) also finished with a double-double with 23 points and 10 boards, while classmate Cody Phillipi (Xenia, OH/Xenia) scored 21 points in his final collegiate game.

In the second semifinal game on Friday night at OWU, second-seeded Wooster (20-7) booked its ticket to the NCAC Tournament title game for the ninth year in a row with an 87-77 victory over third-seeded Denison (22-5). It also marks the first time since 2013 that the top two seeds have matched up in the championship game of the NCAC Men’s Basketball Tournament. In that season, second-seeded OWU knocked off the top-seeded Scots by a 76-66 margin in Wooster. After holding a 39-30 lead over Denison at halftime, the Scots came out red-hot in the second half as senior Dan Fanelly (Uniontown, OH/Green) scored the first eight points of the period to stretch the lead out to 17 at 47-30. Wooster continued its hot shooting and led by as many as 18, 68-50, with just 7:53 left on a free throw from sophomore forward Eric Bulic (Brunswick, OH/Brunswick), but the Big Red wouldn’t go away and cut the lead back to single digits, 72-64, with 4:38 left in the game on a three ball from senior guard David Meurer (Granville, OH/Newark Catholic). DU then scored eight of the next 11 points in the game and trailed by just three at 75-72 with 2:15 showing on the clock following a layup from senior post Jett Speelman (Granville, OH/Newark Catholic). After a Fanelly jumper and two more free throws from Bulic, the Scots lead by eight, 80-72, at the 1:18 mark. The Big Red did trim the lead back down to six, 81-75, with 53 seconds left, but Fanelly was a perfect six-for-six from the free throw line in the final minute to secure the 10-point win for the Scots. Fanelly led all scorers in the game with a season-high 32 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the field and an 11-of-13 clip from the free throw line, while Bulic was just two rebounds shy of another double-double with 11 points and eight boards. Speelman and Meurer both topped the 20-point mark in the game with 24 and 22, respectively, after the duo combined to shoot 13-of-35 from the field and 16-of-18 from the charity stripe. Speelman also picked up a double-double in the loss with a game-high 10 rebounds. Speelman, who scored over 1,000 career points in just two seasons at Denison, shot 96.5 percent (136-of-141) from the free throw stripe during the 2016-17 campaign, which is currently above the benchmark for both the NCAC and NCAA Division III single season record.


Quarterfinal Recaps:

The top four seeds all posted victories on Tuesday (2/21) night in quarterfinal round of the 2017 NCAC Men’s Basketball Tournament. As a result, top-seeded Ohio Wesleyan (20-6) will host the "final four" Friday and Saturday, Feb. 24-25, at Branch Rickey Arena in Delaware, Ohio. The Battling Bishops will face fourth-seeded Wittenberg (18-8) at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, while the second semifinal on Friday will feature second-seeded Wooster (19-7) and third-seeded Denison (22-4) at 8:30 p.m. The semifinal winners will play in the tournament championship game at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday in Delaware. 

Ohio Wesleyan’s 89-81 quarterfinal round victory over eighth-seeded Kenyon (5-21) was anything but easy as the Bishops trailed by 12 in the opening minutes of the game and had to withstand a strong push by the Lords in the second half to secure the opening round win. OWU led by 18 at halftime and seemed to be in control of the game; however, the Lords came out strong in the second half and cut the lead to three, 65-62, at the 7:47 mark on a jumper from senior Ethan Shapiro (Columbia, MD/Atholton). Ohio Wesleyan senior Ben Simpson (Lake Bluff, IL/Lake Forest) then scored seven of the game’s next nine points to help the Bishops build a 12-point lead, 74-62, with 4:05 left in the game, before junior Nate Axelrod (Dublin, OH/Coffman) scored seven of his team-high 26 points in the final two minutes to help OWU secure the eight-point victory. Simpson flirted with a triple-double in the win with 19 points, eight assists and eight rebounds, while classmate Seth Clark (Lewis Center, OH/Olentangy) scored 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field. For KC, junior center Phillip Crampton (Madison, CT/Daniel Hand) led all scorers in the game with a career-high 27 points, while classmate Bennett Grigull (London, England/Kimball Union Acad.) notched his first-career double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Four of Wooster’s five starters scored in double figures to help the Scots cruise to an 89-68 victory over seventh-seeded Wabash (11-15) in the quarterfinal round. The Fighting Scots took their first lead of the game at 6-4 on a layup from junior Spencer Williams (Warrensville Hts., OH/Orange) at the 17:26 mark of the first half and never looked back en route to earning the 21-point victory over the Little Giants. Williams led all scorers in the game with 22 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the field, while sophomore forward Eric Bulic (Brunswick, OH/Brunswick), the only Wooster starter held under 10 points, continued his recent tear on the boards with 15 rebounds and eight points. Three of Wabash’s five starters hit double-digit scoring in the game, led by freshman post Harrison Hallstrom (Naperville, IL/Central) with 17, while sophomore guard Ben Stachowski (Evansville, IN/Memorial) paced the Little Giants on the glass with 10 rebounds. Wooster shot nearly 14 percentage points better than Wabash from the field and also held a 44-38 edge on the glass to advance to the semifinal round of the NCAC Tournament for the 21st year in a row. 

In the closest game of the night, Denison sunk 5-of-6 free throw attempts in the final 25 seconds to hang on for an 85-79 win over sixth-seeded DePauw (12-14) in Granville. The Big Red held a 12-4 advantage just four minutes into the game on a three-pointer from senior post Jett Speelman (Granville, OH/Newark Catholic), but the Tigers responded with a 13-4 run to tie the game at 17-17 with 11:50 on the clock off a three-ball from junior forward Cris Burrough (Carmel, IN/Guerin Catholic).  DU then stretched its lead out to 28-19 thanks in part to back-to-back three pointers from senior guard David Meurer (Granville, OH/Newark Catholic) and the Big Red maintained its lead into the break with a 46-37 advantage at half.  DePauw junior guard David Vogel (Bluffton, IN/Norwell) opened the second half with a three-pointer and the two squads then settled into a fierce back-and-fourth affair that culminated in a 57-57 tie with 11:22 left in the game following a layup from Burrough. DU senior wing Andrew Castagnetti (Bethesda, MD/Walt Whitman) then put the Big Red back on top, 60-57, with three free throws, and the Big Red extended their lead to 74-67 with two more free throws from Speelman with 4:01 left in the game. DPU did draw within two, 75-73, on a pair of free throws from sophomore forward Andrew Kus (Fort Wayne, IN/Canterbury School) with 2:32 on the clock, but the Big Red was able to fend off the Tigers in the final two minutes to book their ticket into the semifinals for the second year in a row. Meurer led all scorers in the game with 28 points after shooting 10-of-21 from the field and 4-of-7 from long distance, while Speelman finished the game with 20 points and a team-high seven rebounds. For DPU, senior guard Luke Lattner (Hinsdale, IL/Fenwick) and junior forward Jack VandeMerkt (Riverside, IL/Brookfield) scored 19 points apiece, while Burrough and Vogel both finished the game with 10 points.

The final quarterfinal game on Tuesday night saw Wittenberg lead wire-to-wire in a convincing 90-44 victory over fifth-seeded Hiram (11-15). The first 11 minutes of action had little indication of the game’s outcome as Wittenberg led by just two, 21-19, following a layup from Hiram junior center Kelvin Jones (Sheffield Lake, OH/Brookside). However, after a bucket from junior post Chad Roy (Toledo, OH/Holland Springfield) at the 8:13 mark, the Tigers closed out the half on a 16-2 run and continued their dominance in the second half en route to earning the 46-point win. The Tigers, who outscored the Terriers by a 51-23 margin in the second half, shot just under 50 percent (49.2) from the field in the game and also held a commanding 50-30 edge on the glass. Thirteen different players scored for Wittenberg in the game, led by senior guard Cody Phillipi (Xenia, OH/Xenia) with a game-high 15 points, while Jones paced the Terriers with 10 points and seven rebounds.


NCAC Men's Basketball Weekly Release - (2/20/17)

Ohio Wesleyan has earned the top seed in the 2017 NCAC Men's Basketball Tournament after winning the 2016-17 league title with a 16-2 mark against conference foes. 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. All ties in the final standings were broken for seeding purposes via the conference tiebreaker system.

Wooster leads all NCAC men's squads with 17 titles all-time, while the Bishops now have seven 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.

The Battling Bishops (16-2, 19-6) host the eight seed Kenyon (4-14, 5-20) and second-seeded Wooster (15-3, 18-7) will host seventh-seeded Wabash (7-11, 11-14). In the other quarterfinal matchups on Tuesday night, third-seeded Denison (15-3, 21-4) hosts sixth-seeded DePauw (8-10, 12-13), while fourth-seeded Wittenberg (11-7, 17-8) entertains fifth-seeded Hiram (8-10, 11-14).

Tuesday's winners will advance to the semifinals and championship on Friday and Saturday at the site of the highest remaining seed to emerge from the quarterfinal round. Semifinal games will be held on Friday with the host institution selecting its preferred time slot. The championship game is set for 4:00 p.m. on Saturday.

In low capacity gyms with less than 2,000 seats (DEN, HIR & OWU), the semifinal games will be played at 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., with the host institution choosing their preferred 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 with more than 2,000 seats (WIT, WOO), the semifinal games will be played at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. with the host institution choosing their preferred time slot. One ticket will be valid for both contests in high capacity gyms.

The championship game is set for Saturday (2/25) at 4:00 p.m. at the site of the semifinal contests. This year's tournament champion will receive an automatic bid to the 2017 NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournament, which beings with first-round play on March 3rd.

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 (2/23) 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.

TOURNEY TALK:Wooster has won six of the last 10 NCAC Tournaments, with only Denison, Ohio Wesleyan and DePauw interrupting that string. Denison won its first tourney title in program history last winter with a 92-81 overtime victory over Wooster. DePauw earned its first tournament title in 2015, while OWU captured titles in 2008 and 2013. Wooster owns 15 postseason titles, with just over half of them coming as the No. 1 seed (1995, ‘99, ‘00, ‘03, ‘07, ‘09, ‘10, ‘11, ‘14). Wittenberg is second all-time with six tourney titles, while Ohio Wesleyan (5), Allegheny (3), Denison (1), DePauw (1) and Kenyon (1) round out the list of past tournament champions. Wooster has appeared in the finals 23 times, including a string of 11-straight from 1997-2007, while Wittenberg has made 15 championship game appearances all-time, followed by Allegheny (8), Ohio Wesleyan (8), Kenyon (3), Wabash (3), Denison (2) and DePauw (1) ... Third-seeded Denison will be hosting a quarterfinal game in Granville for the second year in a row and just the third time since 2005 ... Fourth-seeded Wittenberg, which is competing in the tournament for the 28th year in a row, is in search of its first tournament crown since 2006 ... Hiram, which earned the fifth seed in the tournament, has made the field for the second year in a row after advancing to the semifinal round for the first time in program history last winter ... Sixth-seeded DePauw, which missed out on a tournament berth last year, returns to the field after winning the tourney title in 2015 ... As the seven seed, Wabash has now qualified for the tournament every year since joining the NCAC in the 1999-00 academic year. The Little Giants made back-to-back championship game appearances in 2008 and ‘09, falling to OWU in ‘08, 89-72, and dropping an 84-72 decision against Wooster the next year ... Eighth-seeded Kenyon owns an overall record of 13-28 in NCAC Tournament play and will be seeking its first quarterfinal round victory since topping Wabash, 77-72, as the three seed in 2013 ... Wooster leads all men’s team with an .795 winning percentage (66-17) in tournament games. Wittenberg follows at .677 (44-21), while DePauw is next at .571 (4-3). Ohio Wesleyan .533 (32-28) and Allegheny .500 (24-24) are the only other men’s teams at or above the .500 mark in tournament play.