DU drops heartbreaker at Wabash

Dimonde Hale had 29 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists at Wabash.
Dimonde Hale had 29 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists at Wabash.

In a game decided by mere inches, the Denison Big Red dropped a heart-breaking 75-72 decision to Wabash on Saturday in Crawfordsville, Ind.

Following a pair of free throws by the Little Giants' Ross Sponsler, Denison found itself down 73-70 with 17 seconds left in regulation.  The Big Red quickly moved the ball down the court to set up the game-tying shot.  With 10 ticks remaining, sophomore Briggs King attempted a three that clanked off the iron.

Both teams battled under the hoop before rookie guard Darius White corralled the rebound for DU.  White dished the ball off to Robby Weingart who got an open look at the elbow and connected on what looked like the game-tying shot with less than two seconds to play.  However, the sophomore guard's toe was just on the line and, after further video review, the officials stuck with their original call of a two-point basket.

Down by three once again with one second on the clock, an attempt down court was intercepted by the Little Giants as they held on for the win.

DU got off to a very slow start, converting on just three of their first 21 shots from the field.  That offensive struggle allowed Wabash to build a 21-7 lead almost 11 minutes into the period.  Denison overcame the rocky start, trailing 38-28 at the intermission.

Denison found itself in a 56-43 hole midway through the second half.  With 10 and a half minutes to play, two Alex Longi free throws sparked a 15-2 run that got the Big Red back in the game.  Longi hit four more free throws during that run, while King and Weingart each scored from behind the arc.  Trailing by three with less than seven to go, senior Dimonde Hale drove to the bucket, scored and drew the foul.  Hale tied things up after converting the old-fashioned three-point play.

The game remained tight until Wabash regained a 71-65 lead with 88 seconds to go.  A Hale tip in after a missed jumper cut the lead to four.  The senior then grabbed a defensive rebound after an errant three attempt.  With 19 seconds left in the contest, Hale found King for a triple that made it a one-point game.  Following a DU timeout, White fouled Sponsler, setting up the dramatic conclusion.

Hale led all scorers with 29 points after going 10-for-16 from the field and 9-for-10 from the charity stripe.  The senior also grabbed a season-high tying nine rebounds to go along with a season-high five assists.  Weingart and sophomore Bret Woolard each chipped in 10 points.

Kasey Oeting and Sponsler scored 15 apiece to lead Wabash, while Andy Walsh added 12 tallies.  Oeting and Daniel Purvlicis each pulled down seven boards, while Houston Hodges had five assists.

Despite a slow start to the game, Denison shot 39 percent (23-for-59) from the field, while the Little Giants finished 28-for-64 from the floor (44 percent).  Wabash held a 41-38 edge in rebounding and got 40 points from its bench.  Both teams committed 11 turnovers, however, Denison turned its takeaways into 21 points compared to just 14 tallies for the home team.

Denison falls to 3-3 overall and 1-1 in North Coast Athletic Conference play, while Wabash improves to 2-3 and 1-0 in conference action.  DU returns to the hardwood on Wednesday when they travel to Marietta College for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off.