Wabash and fifth-ranked Wittenberg traded baskets throughout Wednesday evenings North Coast Athletic Conference basketball game. The Little Giants saw their 10-game winning streak end along with their Senior Night festivities spoiled in a 78-69 loss to the visiting Tigers.
Wabash (16-8, 12-5 NCAC) and Wittenberg (23-1, 16-1) each made 27 field goals in the contest. The Little Giants hit one more three-point attempt by making 7-of-18 long-range shots compared to 6-of-18 from behind the arc for Wittenberg. The Tigers picked up the win at the free throw line, shooting 18-of-23 from the stripe for 78.3 percent. Wabash was efficient at the free throw line by connecting on 80 percent of its attempts in the game. However, the Little Giants managed only 10 shots in the contest, making eight.
Wabash celebrated the careers of seniors Alex Eberhard, Colten Garland, and Harrison Hallstrom in their final regular season home game prior to the tipoff. The threesome accounted for 60 victories over their four-year careers with one regular season game along with at least one NCAC Tournament contest remaining on the schedule.
The game saw 15 lead changes and five ties before Wittenberg claimed a 62-59 lead with 7:42 remaining in the game on a three-point basket from Jake Bertemes. Jordan Pumroy scored on a shot in the lane off a pass from Connor Seipel on the Tigers' next trip down the floor to move in front by five points. Ahmoni Jones responded with one of his two long-range jumpers to cut the lead to 64-62 with 6:17 remining.
Seipel pushed the advantage back to two possession with a layup for a 66-62 advantage. Tyler Watson trimmed that lead to one point at 66-65 with 4:51 on the clock with a quick three-pointer.
Wittenberg used a 7-0 run over the next two minutes to stretch its lead to eight points at 73-65. Jack Davidson scored two of his game-high 29 points to end the Tigers' scoring streak for a 73-67 contest with 2:09 remaining. Wabash could get no closer. Wittenberg finished 2-of-3 from the free throw line along with a basket in the final minute by Landon Martin to answer a Davison layup for the nine-point victory.
Wittenberg shot 10-of-13 from the stripe in the second half including a 6-of-8 effort in the final eight minutes of the game. The Little Giants went 5-of-5 from the free throw line in the final 20 minutes but did not get to the line over the course of the last eight minutes of the game.
The loss is first at Chadwick Court for Wabash since the season-opening 77-76 loss to Centre College. Wabash had also won seven consecutive games overall with that streak also coming to an end Wednesday evening.
Watson and Jones each finished with 10 points to join Davidson in double-figuring scoring for the Little Giants. Davidson finished 2-of-3 from the free throw line in the contest to become only the second player in Wabash history to make 500 or more free throws. He finished the evening with 502 career free throws and trails all-time leader Chad Tabor who hit 535 over four seasons at Wabash.
Bertemes led Wittenberg with 19 points. Connor Seipel chipped in 17 points. James Johnson scored 13 points for the Tigers.
Wabash will close out the regular season Saturday with a 3 p.m. contest at Oberlin College. The Little Giants will host a quarterfinal game of the NCAC Men's Basketball Tournament on Tuesday, February 25 at 7:30 p.m. as either the number-two or number-three seed. Their opponent will not be decided until the conclusion of this Saturday's NCAC slate of games.