Wooster, Ohio- After a quarterfinal win over Wabash on Tuesday night, the DePauw men's basketball team traveled to Wooster, Ohio to take on Wittenberg in the semifinals of the North Coast Athletic Conference tournament. Wittenberg hit three late free throws to seal a 63-61 victory over DePauw, sending Wittenberg to the NCAC championship game on Saturday night.
With the loss DePauw dropped to 19-8 on the year, while Wittenberg improved to 21-6 overall.
Wittenberg battled back, eventually taking the lead with 11:26 in the half. The remainder of the first half proved to be a tight battle, featuring three lead changes and five ties.
A late jumper from DePauw's Tommy Fernitz tied the contest at 35 and that is where the score remained entering the locker room.
Fernitz led all scorers with 11 first half points, adding four rebounds. Freshman Luke Lattner added eight first half points for DePauw.
The second half started slowly as neither team could make a bucket in the opening minutes. It was Fernitz who broke the scoreless start with a jumper at the 17:36 mark. Wittenberg would answer 20 seconds later when Steven Newell connected on a long ball, sparking a back and forth battle between the teams that featured 10 lead changes and five ties.
With 8:34 left in the game, Wittenberg's Zack Leahy hit a jumper tying the score at 51-51. Wittenberg would grab a lead, extending it to four points by the 5:05 mark before DePauw cut it in half when Botts hit a jumper with three minutes remaining.
Fernitz would score on a layup drawing a foul with 2:16 left in the game. After hitting the and-one free throw DePauw held a 58-57 lead.
Wittenberg regained the lead with 1:43 remaining when Alex Fultz hit a jumper on an assist from Sam Collins. DePauw would miss their next three shots forcing them to foul Wittenberg with nine seconds left on the clock.
Scott Masin would go to the line and hit a pair putting Wittenberg up 61-58. DePauw would commit a turnover on the ensuing possession forcing them to foul yet again. Wittenberg's Collins would hit one of two from the charity stripe extending the lead to four.
DePauw's Michael Wilkison's deep three with under one second remaining would prove to be too little too late as Wittenberg would hang on to a 63-61 victory.
Fernitz had a game-high 20 points and grabbed nine points in the loss. Lattner added 15 points for DePauw, while Botts dropped in nine.
Wittenberg was led by Masin who had a double-double with 15 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Shane Edwards added 10 points in the win.
Wittenberg won the battle on the boards, outrebounding DePauw 34-27. Wittenberg held a 33-20 edge in bench scoring and a 30-24 edge in points in the paint.
DePauw shot 46.9 percent from the floor to Wittenberg's 42.9 percent, including a 43.8 percent mark from three to Wittenberg's 30.8 percent.
DePauw is now forced to wait to learn their tournament fate during the NCAA Division III selection show, Monday starting a 12:30 p.m. Fans can view the selection show at NCAA.com.