NCAC Weekly Release (1-22-18) - Men's Basketball

Wooster junior guard Reece Dupler led the charge in a pair of wins last week against Kenyon, 75-55, and Wabash, 80-72.
Wooster junior guard Reece Dupler led the charge in a pair of wins last week against Kenyon, 75-55, and Wabash, 80-72.

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Nationally-ranked Wittenberg built its lead at the top of the North Coast men’s basketball standings to three games last week, while also holding the distinction of being one of just two remaining undefeated squads in all of Division III. There are 10 conference games on the slate this week with several tight races brewing below the Tigers in the standings, highlighted by Hiram (7-3, 11-6) hosting Wooster (7-3, 13-4) on Wednesday night in a battle of second-place teams.

ALLEGHENY lost a pair of league games last week against Oberlin, 76-61, and No. 5 Wittenberg, 87-58. Freshman guard Lamar Todd (Pittsburgh, PA/Taylor Allderdice) led the Gators in scoring in both games, tallying 21 points against the Yeomen and 17 more against the Tigers.

DENISON went 2-0 last week, knocking off the reigning NABC Div. III Team of the Week, Hiram, 68-62, on Wednesday, before taking down local-rival Kenyon, 93-90, on Saturday. The two Big Red wins were powered by the performance of senior Maxwell Siwik (Broadview Hts., OH/Walsh Jesuit) with 54 combined points on the week, which included a career-high 35 points on 7-of-12 shooting from three-point territory in the win over the Lords.

DEPAUW dropped a pair of close games last week against arch-rival Wabash, 77-75, and No. 23 Ohio Wesleyan, 77-72. The Tigers led the Little Giants by 11 in the first half, but Wabash put together a 20-4 run that bridged the first and second halves to take the lead for good on Wednesday, before falling just short on Saturday against OWU after nearly erasing a 17-point deficit with 14:50 left in the game. Senior forward Jack VandeMerkt (Riverside, IL/Brookfield) paced the Tigers against OWU by matching a career-high in scoring with 24 points and leading all players in the game with eight rebounds.

HIRAM opened play last week with a 68-62 setback at Denison, but the Terriers responded with a 69-68 home win over Oberlin on Saturday. Despite the loss against DU, senior center Kelvin Jones (Sheffield Lake, OH/Brookside) tallied his third double-double in as many games with 20 points and a season-best 18 rebounds, while junior Marcel Rice (Euclid, OH/Brush) notched a double-double in his first-career start on Saturday against Oberlin with 11 points and 12 rebounds.

KENYON suffered a pair of league losses last week at home against Wooster, 75-55, and on the road at Denison, 93-90. In the two games combined, junior guard Matt Shifrin (Wilton, CT/Wilton) led the Lords by shooting 54.2 percent (13-of-24) from three-point range and posting averages of 17.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game.

OBERLIN sophomore guard Christian Fioretti (Menlo Park, CA/Menlo-Atherton) registered a triple-double with 15 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high 10 assists to help lift the Yeomen to a 76-61 home win over Allegheny on Wednesday. Oberlin also erased a nine-point halftime deficit at Hiram on Saturday, only to fall one-point short of the Terriers in a 69-68 loss. Sophomore forward Andre Campbell (San Francisco, CA/Urban) also notched his second 20-point performance of the season in the loss at Hiram.

OHIO WESLEYAN, ranked 23rd in the NABC/ Top-25, split its league games last week, dropping a 93-72 decision at No. 5 Wittenberg on Wednesday, before posting a 77-72 win at DePauw on Saturday. The senior duo of Seth Clark (Lewis Center, OH/Olentangy) and Nate Axelrod (Dublin, OH/Coffman) both eclipsed the 20-point plateau in the win at DePauw with 28 and 22 points, respectively, while Axelrod also led the squad with nine assists in the five-point win.

WABASH defeated arch-rival DePauw, 77-75, on Wednesday night to earn its first win in Greencastle since 2012, but the Little Giants couldn’t hold a late lead on Saturday in an 80-72 home loss against Wooster. In the win over DePauw, freshman guard Jack Davidson (Fishers, IN/Hamilton) led the Little Giants in the scoring column with 18 points, while sophomore post Harrison Hallstrom (Naperville, IL/Central) collected his fifth double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

WITTENBERG, ranked fifth in the NABC/ Top-25, not only improved to 17-0 on the season, but also ran its stretch of double-digit victories to eight-straight with a pair of league wins last week against No. 23 Ohio Wesleyan, 93-72, and Allegheny, 87-58. At 17-0 overall, the Tigers join No. 1 Whitman as the last remaining undefeated squads in Div. III this season. Four different Tigers scored in double figures against OWU, led by sophomore guard Jacob Bertemes (Springfield, OH/Southeastern) with a career-high 27 on 11-of-16 shooting from the field, while sophomore forward Connor Seipel (Columbus, OH/Groveport Madison) finished the week with a pair of double-double performances. Seipel opened the week with 16 points and 11 rebounds against OWU, before tallying 14 points and 13 more boards against the Gators.

WOOSTER dug in defensively in a pair of wins last week against Kenyon, 75-55, and Wabash 80-72. On Wednesday the Scots held the Lords scoreless for a 5:20 stretch late in the second half, while Saturday’s game saw Wooster erase a late one-point deficit against the Little Giants by securing four steals and shooting a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line in the final two minutes. Junior guard Reece Dupler (Newark, OH/Lakewood) opened the week with 14 points and six rebounds against the Lords, before leading the charge in the comeback at Wabash with 20 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals.