Jack Davidson scored 27 of his 37 points in the first half as Wabash defeated Hiram 101-79 in the opening round of the NCAC Tournament. Photo Courtesy of Wabash College Athletics
The pressure of being the No. 1 overall seed and beating a team for a third time didn’t seem to affect Wabash as they opened up play in the NCAC Tournament by hosting the Hiram Terriers on Tuesday. Early on the visiting Terriers weren’t afraid of the moment or the challenge as they took an early 7-2 lead over the top-seeded Little Giants. But Wabash never wavered early on and eventually took the lead for good. Hiram would cut the deficit to five at the 7:50 mark of the first half, but Wabash took a 49-33 lead into the locker room and the lead swelled from there as Wabash cruised to a 101-79 victory to advance to the semi-finals on Friday night.
Jack Davidson as he has all season for the Little Giants put on a shooting clinic scoring 27 of his game-high 37 points in the first half. When the Terriers focused too much on Davidson, fellow senior Kellen Schreiber scored 25 points as the duo combined for 62 of Wabash’s 101 on the evening.
“We felt very confident that we were going to have a run in the first half and that’s what happened,” Wabash coach Kyle Brumett said. “Coach Roth and Hiram have some tough kids over there and we knew they were going to play hard.”
Freshman and Crawfordsville graduate, Jesse Hall added nine off the Wabash bench as the Little Giants shot 35-58 (60.3%) from the field. Brumett talked about how lethal the Little Giants are on offense and have been all season. That lethality showed itself once again on Tuesday.
“There’s so much that you have to take away with us,” Brumett said. “I continue to say that Jack Davidson is a special kind of player and he showed it again tonight. He’s been incredible in the first 10 minutes of the last three games. Whatever your plan is going in, he’s going to disrupt it. Kellen deserved and needed a game like tonight. He played without fouling and we’re going to need more of that this weekend.”
While he only managed to score just two points, Tyler Watson was the person who did everything else for Wabash as he dished out eight assists and grabbed nine rebounds, and even blocked a shot. The Tri-West product got the praise from Brumett as he has all season for his play.
“He’s evolved so much as a player,” Brumett said. “In high school he was asked and needed to score and that was an adjustment for him when he got here. He’s such a cerebral player and a great teammate. Our guys know that he’s looking for them and coach Sully (Sullivan) have to read the defense to make sure he is still looking for his shot. He’s so willing to pick the defense apart and has had 16 assists the last two games. He’s just another special player.”
Hiram had four players score in double figures led by Brodgie Gordon’s 20. Spencer Willman added 15 and both Sherman Cox and Kevin Beans jr added 11. Hiram ends their season with a record of 9-17.
With the win the Little Giants win improve to 22-3 on the season and now see their winning streak at 18 straight games.
They will host the remaining games in the NCAC Tournament beginning on Friday with the semi-finals. The first semi-final of the evening will get underway at Chadwick court at 5 p.m. and will feature the No. 6 seed DePauw who knocked off No. 3 seeded Ohio Wesleyan. The Tigers will take on the No. 2 seed Wooster who defeated No. 7 Allegheny. Wabash will take on Denison at 7:30. Both winners of the semi-finals will move on Saturday’s championship game at Chadwick court at 4 p.m.
“Playing at home in this tournament is something really special,” Brumett said of the home court advantage. “For 20 years we’ve had to make a bus trip to Ohio and now we get to do it here in Crawfordsville. Letting our students and fans get to see us play at home on Friday will be a special feeling. This team has been so good about just taking it one game at a time. We’ll have our hands full with Denison, but we’ll be ready, there’s no doubt about that.”