Outlook: After being pushed to the brink by up-and-coming Allegheny College on Tuesday night in the NCAC Tournament quarterfinals, the 12-ranked College of Wooster men's basketball team will serve as the host of the North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament semifinals and championship game this weekend, as the Fighting Scots rallied back to top the Gators 91-89. Friday's 5:30 p.m. semifinal features Wooster (22-4) and fourth-seeded DePauw University (17-9) with No. 22 Wittenberg University (21-5) set to square off with No. 25 Wabash College (21-5) at 7:30 p.m. Friday's two winners will play in the championship game at 4 p.m. on Saturday at Timken Gymnasium, with the winner earning the conference's automatic berth to the NCAA Div. III Championships. The full bracket will be announced via NCAA.com at 12:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 25. The NCAC is one of two conferences with three teams ranked in this week's D3hoops.com Top 25 Poll.
Media Coverage: All three games this weekend will be streamed live at https://portal.stretchinternet.com/wooster and will be produced by MCTV. MCTV customers in Wayne and Stark Counties can catch the first replay of Wooster's semifinal game at 10 p.m. on Friday on Ch. 22 and Ch. 621, and should the Scots advance to Saturday's championship game, first replay is set for 8 p.m. Mike Breckenridge's call of Wooster's games can be heard all season long on WQKT 104.5 FM and online at https://wqkt.com. Fans can also follow the live stats links at http://northcoast.org/sports/mbkb/2018-19/schedule and check for periodic score updates on the men's basketball team's Twitter account @ScotsBasketball.
Ticket Information: Ticket prices for the NCAC Tournament are set by the conference office. On Friday, one ticket is good for both games, as Timken Gymnasium will not be cleared between games. Adult tickets are $10. Children (18 and under), NCAC guest passes, and student (non-NCAC institution ID) tickets are $5. All NCAC students (with ID) are admitted free of charge. Ticket prices for Saturday's championship game will be the same as Friday's semifinal round. Ticket sales will begin 90 minutes prior to tipoff.
NCAC Tournament History: Wooster has won the NCAC Tournament a league-best 16 times, and in fact, that total is more than two times greater than Wittenberg University's seven tournament crowns. Wooster is 71-18 all-time in the NCAC Tournament, including a remarkable 55-9 at home, and 25-4 in the semifinals. Wooster will be looking to get back to the championship game this year after Ohio Wesleyan University snapped the Scots' run of nine consecutive championship game appearances last year with an 88-87 overtime win in the semifinals at Wittenberg's Pam Evans Smith Arena. Saturday will mark the 17th time Timken Gymnasium will serve as the site of championship game of the NCAC Tournament for the 17th time.
A Brief Look at DePauw: Wooster and DePauw will meet for the second time within a week, as the two programs capped the regular season on Saturday in Greencastle, Ind. with the Scots emerging with an 81-70 victory. Wooster knows all too well to not overlook the fourth seed in the NCAC Tournament. That's because the fourth seed has won the tournament in two of the last four years, both times over Wooster in the championship game. The first of those came in 2015 when fourth-seeded DePauw upended second-seeded Wooster 69-56 in the championship game. DePauw boasts a plethora of players capable of lighting up the scoreboard from range, as the Tigers finished the regular season second in the conference in three-point percentage at 36.7. Sophomore Nolan Ginther (Noblesville, Ind./Noblesville) has emerged as a reliable forward, especially with the Tigers being without the services of classmate Josh Hall (Bloomington, Ind./Bloomington South) down the home stretch of the regular season due to injury. Ginther's averaging 13.2 points per game this season.
A Brief Look at the Other Semifinal Game: Wittenberg and Wabash split the regular-season meetings with each team emerging victorious by double digits on their respective home courts. Wittenberg is the hottest team in the NCAC coming into the semifinals, as the Tigers have won eight straight. Junior Connor Seipel (Columbus, Ohio/Groveport Madison) is the only player in the NCAC averaging a double-double at 17.9 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. On the flip side, Wabash sophomore Jack Davidson (Fishers, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern) is coming off a 47-point outing in the quarterfinals. Davidson's made headlines of late, thanks to setting the all-divisions NCAA record with 95 consecutive free throw makes before missing for the first time in 14 games versus Oberlin College on Saturday.
Scots Continue One of NCAA Men's Basketball's Most Impressive Streaks: Not only did Wooster lock up NCAC title No. 18 with a 94-86 win over Oberlin last week Wednesday, the victory was the Scots' 20th of the season. That upped the program's remarkable streak of 20-win seasons to 23 straight, a total tied with Duke University for the second-longest active streak among all NCAA men's basketball programs. In fact, Wooster and Duke had the longest active streak for a short stretch, as the University of Kansas needed until Saturday to win its 20th game for the 30th consecutive year.
40 Times 10: Wooster's 68-55 win over Ohio Wesleyan University on Dec. 29 marked the first of 12 straight victories for the Scots before archrival Wittenberg snapped the streak with an 84-74 win on Feb. 9. Along the way, Wooster's 105-67 win over Kenyon College on Jan. 30 marked the Scots' 10th straight win to give the program its 40th all-time 10-game winning streak. Twenty-seven of the 10-game winning streaks have come with legendary head coach Steve Moore at the helm of the program.
Elite Company: Wooster's 81-72 win at Allegheny on Jan. 23 marked Moore's 750th win at the College. Of the 11 NCAA men's basketball coaches with more wins than Moore, only six - Mike Krzyzewski, Herb Magee, Glenn Robinson, Jim Boeheim, Dean Smith, and Adolph Rupp have won 750 or more games with a single program.
Dupler, Hempy Among Most Prolific Scorers in Program History: Given how successful Wooster's been throughout its tradition-rich history in men's basketball, it's not often program history is made or matched. The latter's the case this year though, as for the fifth time in program history, the Scots have a pair of 1,200-point scorers on the active roster. Wooster greats Stan Aukamp and Erich Riebe, both 1992 alumni, were the first to have this impressive feat occur, and three years later, 1995 graduates Doug Cline and Scott Meech had over 1,200 points each when they hung up the Black and Gold jersey for the final time. During the 2001-02 season, Wooster had two players with different class years have over 1,200 points on the active roster in Bryan Nelson '03 and Antwyan Reynolds '02, and that was the case again during the 2006-07 season with James Cooper '08 and Tom Port '07. Current junior Danyon Hempy (Waldo, Ohio/River Valley) scored his 1,200th career point during the Oberlin win on Feb. 13, and current senior Reece Dupler (Newark, Ohio/Lakewood) surpassed 1,400 career points during the Scots' game against Wittenberg University on Feb. 9.
Dupler Passes Up Coach, Now in Top-15 on All-Time Scoring List: Speaking of Dupler, the senior had a pair of milestones take place during the Feb. 9 game versus Wittenberg. First, he passed up Cline, Wooster's now-associate head coach, on the program's all-time scoring list, and by game's end, he was up to 15th all-time in program history. Dupler enters play this weekend 14th all-time with 1,476 points.
Scott Heats Up at Right Time: Sophomore Keonn Scott (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Cardinal Gibbons) was one of the key contributors during Wooster's 12-game winning streak this season. The guard averaged 11 points during the 12-game stretch and set a new career-high in scoring three times, starting with 14 key points off the bench during Wooster's 73-65 win at Wittenberg on Jan. 12. The sophomore was just getting started with follow-up efforts of 16 and 22 points in wins over Denison University (Jan. 16; 92-59) and Hiram College (Jan. 20; 106-80). During those two games, Scott was 14-for-24 from the floor, which included a 7-for-12 showing from behind the arc. He went on to add a second 22-point game during the winning streak versus Kenyon on Jan. 30.
Following a Familiar Blueprint: It comes as no surprise to those who have followed Wooster's program closely over the years, that the Scots pride themselves on team defense and hustle. Freshman Khaylen Mahdi (Holyoke, Mass./MacDuffie School) has provided a big spark in that regard to the Scots' lineup. The rookie played a total of six minutes over three appearances in Wooster's first nine games of the season, but has since earned a spot in the regular rotation, playing at least 12 minutes in every game since. Mahdi's determination was one of the keys to Tuesday's win over Allegheny, as the rookie erupted for a career-high 16 points while continuing to cause havoc on the defensive end. Mahdi had two steals, and while he doesn't get credit on the stat sheet for this - he was directly responsible for several additional Allegheny turnovers.
Bulic Having a Career Year at Both Ends of the Floor: Senior Eric Bulic (Brunswick, Ohio/Brunswick) came into the year already having a reputation as one of the elite defensive-minded big men in the NCAC. That being said, Bulic's hard work leading up to the season has paid off on the offensive end where he's averaging a career-high 7.7 points per game, and his 49.3 field-goal percentage and 35.6 three-point percentage are both also career-highs. Bulic's continued to have a high level of success defensively as well with a career-high 7.5 rebounds per game, and he's averaged at least six boards per night for three straight years.
Tipton Stepping Up in Key Moments: Junior Trenton Tipton (St. Clairsville, Ohio/Union Local) has delivered in clutch situations for the Scots on multiple occasions this season, with three in particular standing out above the rest. The forward hit the go-ahead three-pointer with 38.1 seconds left during Wooster's 76-74 win over Ohio Wesleyan on Feb. 2. Earlier in the season, Tipton upped his career-high in scoring to 19 with a 6-for-9 afternoon during a 106-80 win over Hiram after missing a game due to injury. The forward also played his way onto the E.M. "Mose" Hole/Wooster Kiwanis Classic All-Tournament Team after helping the Scots to a come-from-behind 81-75 win over New Jersey City University on Dec. 30.
Williams Impresses in First Season with Scots: Sophomore transfer Dontae Williams' (Girard, Pa./Girard) Wooster career jumped out to a great start with back-to-back 20-point games during wins over Muskingum University (Nov. 14; 108-100) and Mount Saint Joseph University (Nov. 17; 84-54). He's since hit the 20-point plateau three more times, including against NJCU and Allegheny, with the latter 20-point night coming in Moore's 750th win at the College.
Miller's Contributions Go Above and Beyond: Senior Trey Miller (New Albany, Ohio/New Albany) is in his first season as the starting point guard, and second with the program after spending two seasons at Otterbein University. Miller's contributions go beyond the box score, as his leadership and hustle on the court have proved vital for the Scots this year.
Notable Wooster Alumni in Basketball: Wooster has several notable alumni currently in, or have held, prominent coaching and administrative roles in collegiate and professional basketball. L.W. St. John '06 served as the head men's basketball coach at Ohio State University from 1911-19, and was the Buckeyes' athletic director for over 30 years. Reggie Minton '63, an alternate for the 1964 United States Olympic Team, went on to have a decorated career as a coach and administrator, and he's currently the deputy executive director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), and prior to that was the head coach at the United States Air Force Academy from 1984-00. Larry Shyatt '73 was an assistant coach for numerous programs, including the University of Florida when the Gators won the NCAA Div. I national championship in 2006 and 2007. Shyatt had two stints as head coach at the University of Wyoming and was the man in charge at Clemson University for a five-year run. Presently, he's an assistant with the Dallas Mavericks. Recent alumni in prominent coaching roles include Lamont Paris '96 and Ryan Pedon '00. Paris was on the staff at Wisconsin for seven seasons, during which the Badgers made back-to-back appearances in the Final Four (2014-15), including the 2015 title game. Paris is currently in his second year as the head coach at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Pedon is currently in his second year as the lead assistant at Ohio State, which was ranked as high as eighth last season in the AP Top 25.