There is no place like home for Wabash, as the Little Giants won their sixth-straight home game with an 88-65 NCAC win over Denison Saturday.
With the only home loss coming on Opening Night against No. 25 ranked Centre by one point, Mac Petty Floor at Chadwick Court is certainly friendly confines for the Little Giants, who move to 10-7 on the season and at 6-4, stay in third place in the conference with the win. Denison falls to 5-12 and 2-8 in the league.
“We’ve played great our last three Saturdays at home,” Wabash coach Kyle Brumett said, “but the NCAC is so tough. All the home teams play better. We are good enough to take this on the road. This team has so many strengths. These guys are so close. At home we utilize these strengths better; not as much on the road.”
“We have that confidence at home,” senior leader Harrison Hallstrom said.”It’s great to play in front of friends and family. Playing in Chadwick Court is a lifetime opportunity.”
Hallstrom took the Red Storm by storm, scoring 20 points and grabbing a season-best 11 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season and 17th of his four-year career. He is three rebounds shy of 700 for his career.
The Little Giants also got 20 points from Jack Davidson, who bounced back from a career-low three points at DePauw. Justin Hensley dropped five three-pointers for 15, while Tyler Watson and Connor Rotterman each had 10.
The second wave was also advantage Wabash, as the home team owned a 32-12 margin in bench points.
“Our guys off the bench gave us unbelievable spark and energy,” Brumett said. “(Alex) Eberhard, Hensley and Rotterman just gave us a surge.” Eberhard, another senior, handed out four assists and grabbed two steals to go with a field goal in nearly 21 minutes.
“We have so many weapons, so many finishers,” Brumett noted. “They concentrate on what they do well, and try to fix what they don’t. The next step for all of us is raise the guy coming in for you or the guy you came in for. That is a real strength that we haven’t utilize yet.”
After the teams traded the lead four times early in the game, Wabash kept putting short shots off the glass and adding a three here and there to extend the lead. Denison, who defeated No.2 Wooster last Wednesday, got the deficit back to single digits a couple more times, but never led after 14-13.
“We finished at the rim better. We were more aggressive at the rim,” Hallstrom said, noting the 38 paint points his team accumulated. “Our plan after Wednesday was for us to come off our screens quicker, and our guards did a great job seeing the openings quickly. They got the pass inside. Our communication was good.”
“We took the ball off the point of the roll,” Brumett said, “and that got us inside. We hit those inside shots and that gave us outside shots.”
Both teams were over 55 percent from the field in the first half as they lived inches from the glass. The Little Giants continued their hot shooting in the second, going 8-of-13 from two point range and finishing 48 percent in the half. They were 52 percent overall for the game.
After 19 turnovers Wednesday, the Little Giants had only nine, while forcing 16. They were plus-seven in points off.
The Red Storm was led in scoring by Conor Fenton’s 19 points, and Freeman Brou had 13. The visitors finished at 47 percent shooting, but only shot 39 percent in the second half.
“We were disappointed Wednesday (the loss at DePauw), and we had to swallow the results,” Brumett said, “but this team is resilient. We have bounced back from injuries and from poor play. I haven’t changed starting lineups this much in my career. We are still trying to fit the pieces together. We just have to trust our team and trust our practices. It will work. We just need to get on a roll.”
The Little Giants have a four-game home stand coming up after a Wednesday trip to Ohio Wesleyan. Wabash defeated the Battling Bishops 79-61 earlier in the season.