Hales blasts Wabash with 31-point second half in DePauw win

Sunday, January 15, 2023

To say that Elijah Hales had a good afternoon Saturday would be an understatement.

A school-record 31 points in the second half paced DePauw to an 86-80 hard-fought victory over rival Wabash at Neal Fieldhouse.

Not only was this a rivalry game, DePauw trailed Wabash by a game in the NCAC standings. With the Tiger student section filling up its side of the gym, the Little Giants were a little light on their side as their students were not back on campus yet.

It did not stop the intensity, as both sides brought a physicality to the game. The Tigers got the early advantage 18-13 after a three from Kyle Lillwitz.

DePauw would lead for almost 14 minutes of the first half, but neither team led by more than five in the opening 20 minutes. Defenses were locked in and the officials were trying to let them play.

Things really got interesting late in the half. Wabash tied it up at 25 with 2:50 left on the clock when Ahmoni Jones drilled a three-pointer. Then Josh Whack hit one of his own to push the Little Giants ahead.

With the game tied up at 30 and just 16 seconds left, Jones attacked the basket, scored and drew a controversial block call on DePauw. The Tigers then drew a technical foul. Jones would hit two of three foul shots to give the Little Giants a 34-30 lead going into the break.

It was a different game in the second half. Both offenses began to get into rhythm, constantly going back and forth.

Hales, who was held to just two first-half points, needed to get into the flow and indeed he did. He would score 31 points in the half as he was in the zone, hitting outside and getting to the basket.

“Eli is a special player. When he gets his shot going, he’s really hard to stop. I was really proud of him; he didn’t just settle for threes, he attacked the basket and got to the foul line also,” Tiger coach Rusty Loyd said.

Wabash was able to withstand the outburst and Avery Beaver provided a spark off the bench. The game seemed to break with about two minutes remaining when freshman Sam Jacobs found the mark from behind the arc and put DePauw up seven.

After a Little Giant offensive foul, Jacobs added a free throw to make it the largest lead of the night at eight, 80-72. The Tigers finished it off from the foul line, knocking down 7-of-10 in the final minute of play ad DePauw put the final touches on the 86-80 victory.

“To win my first one (DePauw/Wabash) is really incredible, but just the atmosphere. That’s what small school Division III college basketball is all about. It’s super fun to be a part of,” added coach Loyd.

DePauw is now 13-3 on the season and 5-2 in the NCAC and one game behind Wooster and Ohio Wesleyan. Wabash fell into a tie with DePauw. Hales finished with 33 points, Ronald Johnson had 12 off the bench and Sam Jacobs finished with 10 points. Grant Gohmann paced the Tigers with eight rebounds.


Team Stats

FG Pct41%58%
3pt Pct37%40%

Individual Stats

Scoring - (D) Hales 33, Johnson 12, Jacobs 10, N. Niego 8, Brown 7, Gohmann 6, G. Niego 4, Jacobson 3, Lillwitz 3; (W) Jones 20, Buccilla 17, Beaver 15, Whack 13, Redmon 5, S. McCorkle 4, Schippert 3, C. McCorkle 2, Comer 1

Rebounding - (D) Gohmann 8, Brown 5, N. Niego 5, G. Niego 4, Jacobs 3, Jacobson 3, Johnson 2, Hales 2, Lillwitz 1; (W) Schippert 9, Jones 5, Buccilla 3, Comer 3, C. McCorkle 2, Whack 2, Beaver 1, Redmond 1

Assists - (D) Gohmann 3, N. Niego 3, Brown 2, Jacobson 1; (W) Whack 3, Schippert 2, Buccilla 2, Redmond 2, Comer 1, Jones 1, C. McCorkle 1, S. McCorkle 1

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