Springfield, Ohio - It was a script that Hollywood screenwriters would envy. Last Saturday, the Wittenberg University men's and women's basketball teams both concluded their regular seasons in dramatic fashion, wrapping up North Coast Athletic Conference championships with wins over top contenders.
The Tiger women took the stage first and captured an early lead against visiting Denison University at the HPER Center and then used a 16-1 second-half run to bury the Big Red 65-43 and claim their first outright conference crown since 1998. The win improved Wittenberg to 19-5 overall and 14-2 in the NCAC, the team's best conference record since 1999, when the Tigers shared the regular season title with Ohio Wesleyan with matching 14-2 marks.
The Tiger women, who have won eight regular season NCAC championships in 13 years as members of the conference, now enter the NCAC tournament as the No. 1 seed and will likely host the conference tournament semifinals and finals. Wittenberg hosts No. 8 seed Wooster on Tuesday at 5: 30 p.m., and if the Tigers win they will host the semifinals on Thursday at 5:30 and 7:45 p.m. and the finals on Saturday at 4 p.m. A win on Tuesday would have the added significance of being the 300th career win for Tiger Head Coach Pam Smith. Her career record heading into the tourney is 299-128.
The Tiger men put the wraps on a historic day by taking out archrival Wooster 68-66 on the Scots' home court before 3,200 boisterous fans. The Tigers, who held a slim one-game lead over Wooster coming into the game, rallied from a 12-point second half deficit by going on a late 12-0 run and taking the lead for good with 2:05 remaining on a four-point play by senior guard Greg Rustad. Nationally ranked Wittenberg improved to 22-3 overall and 15-1 in the NCAC and won its second straight regular season conference title.
The Tiger men are riding a streak of 46 consecutive non-losing seasons and have now won 29 Ohio Athletic Conference or North Coast Athletic Conference regular season titles since 1960, including nine crowns in the 13 years in which the Tigers have competed in the NCAC. Wittenberg is now the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament and will likely host the conference tournament semifinals and finals this weekend. Tourney action gets underway on Tuesday as eighth-seeded Earlham comes calling at the HPER Center at 7:45 p.m.
Finally, there's the business of ticket prices. For Tuesday's quarterfinal games, tickets are good for both the men's and women's games and are priced at $4 for adults, $1 for students with a college ID, $1 per person for faculty/staff members and their families, and $1 for children. One ticket is good for both games each day.
If Wittenberg hosts both the men's and women's tournament semifinals and finals, ticket prices for Thursday's women's semifinals and Friday's men's semifinals are $7 for adults, $2 for students with college ID, $2 per person for faculty/staff members and their families, and $2 for children. One ticket is good for both games each day.
Ticket prices for the Saturday championship events are $8 for adults, $3 for students with college ID, $3 per person for faculty/staff and their families, and $3 for children. Tickets for each game will be sold separately. One ticket is good for both games each day.
This week's action can be heard locally on WBLY (AM 1600) and via the Internet on Wittenberg's broadcast site, http://www4.wittenberg.edu/news/athletics/broadcast.shtml. The station will carry every tournament game that involves a Wittenberg team, as well as the other men's semifinal game on Friday.
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