Wabash senior Harrison Hallstrom had six points and 14 rebounds in a 78-69 loss to No. 5 ranked Wittenberg on Wednesday night.
Wabash honored their three seniors, but the Little Giants came up short to No.5 Wittenberg, losing their last regular season home game 78-69.
The loss snaps a seven-game win streak for Wabash, and stops a 10-game home win streak. The Little Giants fall to 16-8 overall and remain in third place in the NCAC with a 12-5 record.
The Tigers, who had already clinched the conference title, up their record to 23-1 and 16-1 in the league.
There is no other place to look at in the stats sheet for the game to figure out where the visitors won.
Wittenberg shot 13 more free throws and were a plus-10 in made charity tosses over Wabash.
Field goals were even at 27 each. Wabash had one more made 3-pointer. Rebounds were exactly the same.
Wabash was called for 21 fouls, and the Tigers for 13.
“They (Wittenberg) are really good,” Little Giants coach Kyle Brumett said. “I think they are even better than No. 5. Against a good team like that, you have to find your advantages. We were pretty even everywhere with them except we shot five free throws in the first half and five in the second and got outscored by 10 at the line. Credit them for getting to the line. We have to find another advantage.”
At Wittenberg in mid-January, Wabash fell behind by as many as 23 before getting back and then losing by 10.
Last night saw 14 lead changes and three ties. Wabash led for the last time at 56-54 with 8:30 left in the game. The Tigers opened the score up late with a couple buckets and some free throws.
“We committed some dumb fouls,”Brumett said, “but they force you into some of those too. Their defense made it hard on us, and we couldn’t get into any transition game because of the turnovers. They outscored us 12-5 in points off turnovers and by 10 at the line.”
Leading the way for Wabash was Jack Davidson. The second-leading scorer in the conference had 29 points and became only the third Little Giant to surpass 1,600 career points. Tyler Watson and Ahmoni Jones each had 10.
“Wittenberg had four guys in double figures,” Brumett said. “When we win, we get four. We made some adjustments because they were not going to let Watson and (Justin) Hensley get loose, but our offense has to be in overdrive to match their runs.”
The Tigers were led by Jake Bertemes with 19, Connor Seipel with 17, James Johnson with 13 and Landon Martin with 10.
Wabash honored Alex Eberhard, Harrison Hallstrom and Colten Garland before the game.
The trio of four-year hoopsters have accumulated 60 wins, 2,429 points, 1,296 rebounds and 317 assists. They took a minute to look back on their careers, and zeroed in on people first and foremost.
“It was tough sometimes,” Eberhard said. “It really tests you. You put in a lot of hours, miss classes because of games and miss out on some of the social life, but the people here, my teammates, have made it so special. We have so much support, guys show up for games when they could be studying for tests or papers. The Sphinx Club and coaches are always there.”
“These teammates are my best friends,” Garland said. “As a student and as a basketball player, they are there for you. The best aspect of being a student-athlete at Wabash is that there are high expectations of us, but we are treated like adults, like men. The friends on the teams over the years are the best friends I have ever had, and the ‘Bench Mob’ this year is a great bunch.”
“It’s the relationships,” Hallstrom noted. “It’s all the guys, and I mean the guys who are not playing a lot too. I’m really going to miss being a part of this team. They have your back while you have theirs.”
“I’m not going to miss getting up at 6 a.m. and ankle braces,” Eberhard said, “but I’ll miss those bus rides, and I’ll miss sitting out in left field during a baseball game in the nice weather harassing some outfielder from another team.”
There were nine freshmen that came to Wabash four years ago, and these three worked toward a start in Senior Night last evening. Hallstrom did finish with a game-best 14 rebounds.
“There were us nine,” Hallstrom said. “Through time, we are down to three. Since the three of us are from a long drive away, we have spent a lot of school breaks together here on campus. We’ve become great friends.”
“I think we have changed the culture a little,” Eberhard said. “We used to have lots of freshmen and sophomores and one senior. Now we have the three of us. You get out as much as you put in, and I think that is so true of this team.”
“The dynamics have changed,” Garland said. “Maybe winning 20 games helps. Everybody buys in, especially the younger guys.”
All three talked about the support they have received.
“The support from the Crawfordsville community has been great,” Garland said. “It’s better than anywhere else. The students, the Wabash community, the Crawfordsville community, they always show up and cheer us on. We really appreciate that.”
“I have to thank those folks also,” Hallstrom said, “and also the professors and the folks who will just stop and have a conversation on campus. The support is great.”
“Thanks to anyone who has helped us,” Eberhard said. “Our families and everyone who has been part of our journey.”
The Little Giants can do no worse than third in the seeding for the NCAC conference tournament, and will host a game next Tuesday. A win on the road at Oberlin, coupled with a Wooster loss, would mean Wabash could move into second.