Semifinal Outlook: The College of Wooster (19-7, 15-3 North Coast Athletic Conference) takes on Denison University (22-4, 15-3 NCAC) in the second semifinal game (8:30 p.m.) on Friday night at Ohio Wesleyan University's Branch Rickey Arena. This will mark the third straight year the two teams have squared off at some point during the NCAC Tournament. Denison topped Wooster 92-81 in overtime in last year's championship game, giving the Big Red their first-ever NCAC Tournament title. Two years ago, Wooster cruised past Denison 106-68 in the quarterfinal round of the tournament. Ohio Wesleyan University (20-6, 16-2 NCAC) squares off with Wittenberg University (18-8, 11-7 NCAC) in the other semifinal contest at 5:30 p.m. The two semifinal winners will meet in Saturday's championship game at 4 p.m. at Branch Rickey Arena.
Media Coverage: Wooster's semifinal game will be streamed live at https://www.owu.edu/about/follow-owu/stream-owu/, and will also be carried on tape delay on MCTV at 9 a.m. (Ch. 22) and noon (Ch. 621 in HD) on Saturday. Wooster's game can also be heard on WQKT 104.5 FM or online at http://wqkt.com. Fans can also follow the men's basketball team's Twitter account @ScotsBasketball for periodic score updates.
Ticket Information: Tickets for Friday's semifinal game will go on sale at 7:30 p.m. and will be $7 for adults, $5 for holders of the NCAC guest pass and children (18 and under), and $5 for students without an ID card from an NCAC institution. Students with a valid ID from an NCAC institution are admitted free of charge. Branch Rickey Arena will be cleared after the Ohio Wesleyan-Wittenberg game, and a separate ticket is required for each game for those supporters of Scots' basketball who wish to attend both semifinal games.
NCAC Tournament History: Wooster has won the NCAC Tournament a league-best 15 times, and in fact, that total is more than two-times greater than Wittenberg University's six league tournament crowns. Wooster and Ohio Wesleyan are the only two teams to have appeared in all 33 NCAC Tournament. Wooster is now 67-17 all-time in the NCAC Tournament after Tuesday's 89-68 win over Wabash College, and is making its 21st consecutive appearance in the semifinal round, while a win over Denison would advance the Scots to their ninth straight championship game. The Scots are now 21-5 all-time when playing as the No. 2 seed in the NCAC Tournament, and this year marks the 20th straight seasons Wooster's been either the No. 1 or No. 2 seed. Additionally, Wooster is 10-4 when playing at a neutral site in the NCAC Tournament.
Quarterfinal Recap: Junior Spencer Williams (Warrensville Hts., Ohio/Orange) scored 22 points, while senior Milt Davis (Cincinnati, Ohio/Colerain) added a career-high 19 points, as Wooster topped Wabash 89-68 on Tuesday evening at Timken Gymnasium. Sophomore Eric Bulic corralled 15 rebounds on the night, marking the ninth time in program history a Wooster student-athlete had at least 15 rebounds in a NCAC Tournament game.
Last Week's Recap: Wooster capped the regular season with a 99-71 win over archrival Wittenberg on Saturday, marking the 11th time in the last 12 meetings one of college basketball's best small college rivalries has gone the Scots' way. Wooster now leads the all-time series between the two teams 59-55. Wooster opened the second half with a 15-0 run to run an eight-point halftime lead into a 23-point advantage. Sophomore Mitch Balser (Centerville, Ohio/Centerville) scored a season-high 21 points on 8-for-10 shooting, including a 3-for-4 night from beyond the arc. On Wednesday' Wooster nearly had as many offensive rebounds (13) as Kenyon College had rebounds (16) at halftime during the Fighting Scots' 87-62 win over the Lords. For the game, sophomore Eric Bulic (Brunswick, Ohio/Brunswick) matched Wooster's season-high with 17 rebounds, a total that was previously turned in by junior Alex Baptiste (Allonnes, France/Wasatch Academy (Utah) during the Whitman College game back on Dec. 18. First-year Danyon Hempy (Waldo, Ohio/River Valley) led five Scots in double figures with a game-high 20 points, marking his third 20-point game.
On To the Finals: Williams' go-ahead old-fashioned three-point play from Wooster's double-overtime win at DePauw University on Jan. 28 won the week two fan vote in the GEICO Play of the Year competition. Williams will be one of five plays in the finals for fans to vote on between March 6-13. The winning play will be unveiled on CBS' "Best of College Basketball" show on March 25 at noon.
In Search of 20: A win on Friday would keep Wooster in good company, as it would mark the Scots' 20th of the season, and Wooster has won 20 or more games in each of the last 20 seasons. A win over Denison would make it 21 years in a row, and keep Wooster tied with Duke University for the second-longest active streak in NCAA men's basketball. The Blue Devils have already surpassed 20 wins for this season, and the two programs trail only Kansas University, who extended its streak to 28 straight 20-win seasons back on Feb. 1.
Mr. Consistent: Williams, Wooster's second-leading scorer at 14.7 points per game, continues to find the bottom of the basket in a multitude of ways this season. The junior guard has been in double figures in 23 of Wooster's 26 games to date, and had a string of 12 straight games with 10 or more points from Dec. 21 to Feb. 4, and had three 20-point games during that span. In the quarterfinal win over Wabash, Williams surpassed 20 points for the fifth time this season.
Rebounding Machine: Wooster ranks first in the NCAC in rebounding at 41.3 per game, while the Scots' opposition averages the third-fewest rebounds in the league at 32.8, and a lot of that is attributed to Bulic's stellar play. The sophomore forward recently recorded a career-high 17 rebounds against Kenyon in the last week of the regular season, and corralled 15 more in the NCAC Tournament quarterfinal game. In fact, Bulic is averaging 9.9 rebounds per game over Wooster's last 10 contests, and now ranks sixth individually in the league in rebounding at 6.6 rebounds per night.
Polar Opposites: Wooster all-around balanced effort has led to the Scots ranking eighth in Div. III in scoring margin (14.4) and 10th in rebounding margin (8.6) in games played through Feb. 20. Wooster is one of three teams in the division to rank in the top 10 in both statistical categories with Benedictine University (Ill.) and Neumann University being the other two.
Rim Protectors: Baptiste and Bulic give the Scots a lot of depth and experience on the interior defensively. In fact, the duo rank among the top rim protectors in the league as Baptiste leads the conference in blocked shots per game at 1.2, and Bulic isn't far behind sitting sixth at 0.9. In fact, the two combined average 2.1 blocks per game, and no other duo from the same team in the conference averages above 2.0 blocks per night combined.
Thievery at Timken: A lot of pick-pocketing has occurred at Timken Gymnasium of late, and there's been a person of interest identified in the case, and he wears No. 23 for the Scots, and that is of course sophomore Reece Dupler (Newark, Ohio/Lakewood). Dupler recorded four steals against Wittenberg on Saturday, marking the third time this season the sophomore's had at least that many in a game. He logged five in Wooster's win against Allegheny College on Feb. 8, including one on each of the Gators' first three possessions of the game. Dupler averaged three steals per night over Wooster's final six home games of the season. Offensively, he's developed into an ultra-consistent scorer of late with 19, 18, 18, and 18 points respectively over Wooster's last four games.
Postseason King: Davis found his stride in Wooster's win over Wabash on Tuesday with a career-high 19 points. Coincidentally, his previous career-high was 18 and that came against Lancaster Bible College in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament. In fact, between his junior and senior seasons, Davis has now been in double figures in three of Wooster's eight postseason games.
Fanelly Rises Up: Senior Dan Fanelly (Uniontown, Ohio/Green) moved into seventh on the program's all-time scoring list during Saturday's win over Wittenberg. He now has 1,595 points for his career, a total 19th in NCAC history. This season, Fanelly currently ranks second in the NCAC at 18.1 points per game, second with a 61.4 (159-for-259) field goal percentage, fourth with a 79.1 (110-for-139) free throw percentage, fourth with 1.6 steals per game, and fifth with 3.2 assists per game. Additionally, Fanelly has 11 20-point games on the season, and had five straight between Jan. 28 and Feb. 11.
Hempy Lights it Up: Hempy enters this weekend tops in the conference with a 47.1 3-point percentage (33-for-70), and in fact, ranks ninth with a 50.0 field goal percentage (100-for-200), making Wooster the only team in the league with three of the top 10 student-athletes in terms of field goal percentage (Fanelly ranks second at 61.4 percent while Dupler is fifth at 57.5 percent).
Streaking Under Moore: Wooster picked up its 10th straight win on Feb. 8 against Allegheny, marking the 26th time the Scots have strung together a double-digit win streak in Steve Moore's 30 years as the head coach. In fact, Wooster has at least one 10-game win streak in 18 of the last 20 years.
Under 55: Wooster held Wittenberg (55), Kenyon (46), and Wabash (54) to 55 or fewer points during its 10-game win streak. That stretch marked the first time Wooster's held three consecutive opponents to 55 or fewer points since the early stages of the 2013-14 season. Wooster ramped up the defensive intensity in its most recent outing, keeping Allegheny under 50 points (49), marking the second time this season holding a foe to under 50.