DPU men fall to Wittenberg in NCAC semifinal

Saturday, March 1, 2014
Tommy Fernitz

WOOSTER, Ohio -- After a quarterfinal win over Wabash on Tuesday night, the DePauw men's basketball team traveled to Wooster, Ohio to take on Wittenberg in the semifinals of the North Coast Athletic Conference tournament.

Wittenberg hit three late free throws to seal a 63-61 victory over DePauw, sending Wittenberg to the NCAC championship game on Saturday night.

With the loss DePauw dropped to 19-8 on the year, while Wittenberg improved to 21-6 overall.

DePauw coach Bill Fenlon saw more than one factor that contributed to the loss.

"We didn't do as good of a job on the boards," Fenlon said. "We weren't on the offensive boards, for one thing. We didn't do as good a job on Scott Masin in the second half as we did in the first two games."

Masin, Wittenberg's leading scorer and rebounder, had a double-double with 15 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.

And while DePauw committed only nine turnovers, they were costly.

"We just made a lot of bad choices," Fenlon said. "We only made nine turnovers, but four of them led to layups on the other end, which is really sort of unforced. When you do that in a game that ends up being a two-point game, that's pretty tough. So they get six or seven, eight extra possession on the offensive glass. They got to the free throw line and we didn't, and we had turnovers that led to points for them.

"Maybe if we only do one of those things, not all three of them, the game's a little bit different," Fenlon said. "But I felt like we played hard and we didn't play a great game. We made too many mistakes."

DePauw got off to a fast start taking a six-point lead in the opening five minutes behind three pointers by Bob Dillon and Adam Botts.

Wittenberg battled back, eventually taking the lead with 11:26 in the half. The remainder of the first half proved to be a tight battle, featuring three lead changes and five ties.

A late jumper from DePauw's Tommy Fernitz tied the contest at 35 and that is where the score remained entering the locker room.

Fernitz led all scorers with 11 first half points, adding four rebounds. Freshman Luke Lattner added eight first-half points for DePauw.

The second half started slowly as neither team could make a bucket in the opening minutes. It was Fernitz who broke the scoreless start with a jumper at the 17:36 mark. Wittenberg would answer 20 seconds later when Steven Newell connected on a long ball, sparking a back and forth battle between the teams that featured 10 lead changes and five ties.

With 8:34 left in the game, Wittenberg's Zack Leahy hit a jumper tying the score at 51-51. Wittenberg would grab a lead, extending it to four points by the 5:05 mark before DePauw cut it in half when Botts hit a jumper with three minutes remaining.

Fernitz scored on a layup, drawing a foul with 2:16 left in the game. After hitting the free throw, DePauw held a 58-57 lead.

Wittenberg regained the lead with 1:43 remaining when Alex Fultz hit a jumper on an assist from Sam Collins. DePauw missed their next three shots forcing them to foul Wittenberg with nine seconds left on the clock.

Scott Masin went to the line and hit a pair putting Wittenberg up 61-58. DePauw committed a turnover on the ensuing possession forcing them to foul yet again. Wittenberg's Collins hit one of two from the charity stripe extending the lead to four.

DePauw's Michael Wilkison's deep three with under one second remaining proved to be too little too late as Wittenberg would hang on to a 63-61 victory.

Fernitz had a game-high 20 points and grabbed nine points in the loss. Lattner added 15 points for DePauw, while Botts dropped in nine.

Behind Masin's 15 for Wittenberg, Shane Edwards added 10 points in the win.

Wittenberg won the battle on the boards, outrebounding DePauw 34-27. Wittenberg held a 33-20 edge in bench scoring and a 30-24 edge in points in the paint.

DePauw shot 46.9 percent from the floor to Wittenberg's 42.9 percent, including a 43.8 percent mark from three to Wittenberg's 30.8 percent.

DePauw is now forced to wait to learn their tournament fate during the NCAA Division III selection show on Monday

"Our guys had a great year," Fenlon said. "We've still got our fingers crossed for the at-large. We were fifth in the Great Lake region in the rankings, ahead of Wittenberg and Ohio Wesleyan. Whether this loss, even though we've got two wins over them, would jump them ahead of us, I don't know. We'll just have to wait and see."

The selection show begins at 12:30 p.m. Monday. Fans can view the show at NCAA.com.

"I still think we have an outside shot to get in," Fenlon said. "We have a very strong strength of schedule. We played a very difficult schedule and we got a lot of good wins, really more than most people do. We have five top-20 wins."

Wittenberg takes on tournament host Wooster at 7 p.m. today for the NCAC title. Wooster defeated Ohio Wesleyan 78-67 on Friday.

At Wooster
NCAC Semifinal
Wittenberg 35 28 -- 63
DePauw 35 26 -- 61
Masin 3-7 9-12 15, Edwards 4-7 2-2 10, Phillippi 3-6 1-1 8, Collins 2-5 2-4 6, Fultz 2-5 1-2 6, Kiesler 2-4 2-2 6, Newell 2-4 0-0 5, Leahy 2-8 0-0 4, McDowell 1-1 0-0 3, Bond 0-2 0-0 0, Hormann 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 21-49 FG, 17-23 FT, 63 points.
Fernitz 9-11 2-4 20, Lattner 5-8 2-2 15, Botts 4-9 0-0 9, Dillon 2-5 0-0 6, Wilkison 2-8 0-0 5, Haggin 1-3 3-3 5, Patton 0-1 1-4 1, Burns 0-3 0-0 0, Onuorah 0-1 0-0 0, Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Fey 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 23-49 FG, 8-12 FT, 61 points.
3-pt FG:
Wit 4-13 (Newell 1-3, Fultz 1-2, Phillippi 1-2, Leahy 0-2, Bond 0-2, Edwards 0-1) DPU 7-16 (Lattner 3-4, Dillon 2-3, Wilkison 1-4, Botts 1-4, Haggin 0-1). Reb-off: Wit 34-11 (Masion 10-4), DPU 27-5 (Fernitz 9-1). Assists: Wit 7 (2 with 2), DPU 10 (Patton 4). Steals: Wit 7 (Edwards 3), DPU 6 (Wilkison 3). Blocks: Wit 2 (2 with 1), DPU 6 (Fernitz 5). Turnovers: Wit 10, DPU 9. Fouls: Wit 13, DPU 18. Fouled out: Wit-none, DPU-Fernitz, Dillon. Technicals: None.

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