Men’s basketball narrowly loses two conference games

Toughness.

The Big Red men’s basketball team displayed lots of it in each of their two games last week, falling to a strong Wittenberg team that had been ranked up until this week, then losing a narrow one against Oberlin in the final seconds.

On Wednesday, the Wittenberg Tigers and their potential All-American, Connor Siepul, traveled to Granville to take on the Big Red.

It was a closely fought first half. After pulling out to a 20-9 lead, Wittenberg allowed a Denison 17-6 run that cut the lead to down to just one. It seemed throughout the night that whenever the Big Red built some momentum, Wittenberg would respond and stretch the lead back to double digits.

Another Siepul-led Wittenberg run in the closing minutes of the first half stretched the lead back to eight entering the half.

The second half was more of the same. The Big Red cut into the Tigers’ lead and got as close as three multiple times throughout the half. The final score was 82-72 in favor of Wittenberg.

After some early foul trouble, it was a very strong day for the Big Red’s Connor Fenton ‘21, who finished with seven points to go along with ten rebounds and four blocks.

It was another close, tough North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) matchup against an opponent likely headed to the NCAA tournament, something the Big Red are getting pretty used to. Matt Doyle ‘19 spoke to the tough competition the Big Red see, and play tight with, night after night in the NCAC.

“Playing in the NCAC is humbling with all the great competition and is also a great opportunity to see how you stack up against some of the best Division III programs in the country. As great as some of the teams at the top are, you can see though how on any given night any team can beat anyone, which shows how special of a conference we play in,” said Doyle.

Their next NCAC matchup came against Oberlin on Saturday, this time on the road.

Doyle paced the Big Red with 13 points in a 62-61 loss to the Yeomen. It was a familiar site for the Big Red, as they trailed early in the second half but battled back to give themselves a chance to win at the end of the game.  

They had two shots on the game’s final possession after Oberlin took a one point lead with 11 seconds to play. Unfortunately for the Big Red, neither shot fell.

There’s no question however about the senior leadership on this team.

“The best part of senior year is getting to play basketball with my best friends every day and having a chance to work towards something bigger than ourselves. There is an added responsibility to being on the team as a senior leader, and the other two seniors, Claude and Jack, have also done a great job in helping our team get better every day,” said Doyle.

The Big Red will take on #13 Wooster at home in an NCAC matchup on Wednesday, February 6 at 8 p.m. in Livingston Gymnasium.