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First-half surge propels #19 Denison to win at Wabash

Garrett Collier |  Photo by Jace Delgado
Garrett Collier | Photo by Jace Delgado

CRAWFORDSVILLE, Ind. -- A 15-2 run over the final 5:48 of the first half helped lift the 19th-ranked Big Red to a 66-53 victory at Wabash on Saturday afternoon. With the win, Denison improves to 14-1 overall and a perfect 8-0 in the North Coast Athletic Conference.

For the second-consecutive game, the Big Red found themselves in an early deficit falling behind by three possessions just four minutes into the game. Back-to-back three pointers by sophomore Claude Chandonnet and senior Bret Woolard sparked a 13-2 burst that turned a seven-point deficit into a 17-15 lead with 10:25 on the clock. DU scored on six of their seven possessions during that span thanks in large part to three offensive rebounds that resulted in six points.

The two squads traded off buckets eventually moving the scored to 22-22 with just under seven minutes left in the first half. Following a takeaway, sophomore Matt Doyle found Chandonnet for another triple. Two Big Red possessions later, junior Garrett Collier corralled an offensive board off his own miss and found Johnny Vernasco for an easy layup. The Little Giants' Duncan Roy answered with a jumper to shrink the margin to three before a 10-0 run over the final three minutes of the half sent Denison into the locker room with a 13-point advantage. Seniors Jett Speelman and David Meurer took over the offense down the stretch combining for all 10 points.

Wabash pulled to within single digits on three separate occasions in the early stages of the second half, including a 48-39 deficit with 12:43 to go. However, an 11-2 burst over the course of three minutes gave DU their largest lead of the game at 59-41. The Little Giants get within 10 a with 7:15 remaining, but six-straight scoreless possessions pitched by the Big Red defense allowed the visitors to maintain a double-digit advantage. Meurer delivered the final dagger with a minute to play as he drained a three-pointer from the top of the key.

Denison converted 43 percent (25-for-58) from the field including a 30-percent clip from behind the arc. Wabash shot 44 percent (18-for-41) from the floor. The Big Red outrebounded the Little Giants 36-25 and forced the home team into 14 turnovers that resulted in 13 points. DU also outscored Wabash in the paint 28-12. The Big Red bench scored 23 of the team's points compared to just four tallies from the Wabash reserves.

Matthew Bauer, Speelmand and Woolard each had 13 points to pace the Denison offense. Bauer also grabbed a game-high seven rebounds, while Speelman and Woolard had five and four boards, respectively. Collier dished out a game-best seven assists, while Vernasco recorded four of the team's nine steals.

Colten Garland led all scorers with 20 points, while Logan White added 10 points and six rebounds.

At 14-1, Denison is one win away from tying the overall record posted by the 1913-14 team that completed their season with a 15-1 mark. The Big Red continues their three-game road swing on Wednesday (Jan. 18) when they travel to Hiram. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m.

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