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Late basket pushes Wittenberg past #9 Denison

Bret Woolard  |  Photo by Jace Delgado
Bret Woolard | Photo by Jace Delgado

GRANVILLE, Ohio--  Shane Edwards scored the go-ahead basket with under 10 seconds to play and Denison's final shot was blocked at the buzzer, preserving the 71-70 victory for the Tigers at Livingston Gymnasium. 

The loss snaps a nine-game winning streak for the Big Red who fall to 17-2 overall and 11-1 in the North Coast Athletic Conference.

The ninth-ranked Big Red appeared to have things under control early in the second half when David Meurer's layup lifted Denison to a 45-29 lead with just over 16 minutes to play.

Over the next 10 minutes, Jaelin Williams put the Tigers on his back and made it a one-point game at 57-56 with 7:37 remaining.  During that stretch, Williams scored 12 of Wittenberg's 27 points by going 3-for-4 from beyond the arc.

Denison responded with a 12-3 run fueled by treys from Maxwell Siwik and Meurer. With 3:46 to play, DU held a 69-59 lead.

That lead dwindled to three after Williams' jumper with 1:36 to go.  At the other end, Meurer missed a layup that could have put his team on top by five.  Instead, Cody Phillippi snagged the rebound and Williams drilled a long jumper that made it a one-point lead for DU with 58 seconds to play.

Denison's next possession resulted in a turnover after a steal by Williams.  The Tigers called a timeout with 27 seconds on the clock and drew up a play that ended up going to Edwards.  The senior drove the lane and sent a shot off the glass for the go-ahead field goal.  After inbounding the basketball and advancing it over half court, Denison called a timeout with 4.7 seconds to play.

The ball went to senior Bret Woolard near the top of the key.  After a spin move, he went to the basket with a step on his defender.  At the last possible second, Williams swooped in and swatted Woolard's game-winning attempt off the glass as time expired.  As Denison's bench lobbied for a goaltending call from the officials, Wittenberg celebrated the upset win at midcourt.

It marked the first loss for the Big Red since December 14 at Capital.  Meurer led all scorers with 25 points on 10-of-18 shooting.  Woolard followed with 10 points while Siwik and Matthew Bauer scored eight.  Jett Speelman, Denison's leading scorer, was held in check for four points and four rebounds on 1-of-8 shooting.

Williams finished with a team-high 23 points for the Tigers.  He was 8-of-13 from the field and 4-of-8 from long range.  Sixteen of his 23 came in the second half.  He also finished with four steals and eight rebounds.

Wittenberg improves to 13-6 and 7-5 in the NCAC.  Despite the loss, Denison holds a one-game lead over second-place Wooster in the NCAC standings at 11-1.  The Fighting Scots are 10-2 after today's 111-104 double overtime win at DePauw.

Denison will return to the court on Wednesday, Feb. 1 when they travel to Delaware, Ohio for an 8 p.m. tip-off against Ohio Wesleyan University.

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