Tigers Top Little Giants, 73-62
Greencastle, Ind. (12-4-02) - Junior guards Jon Owens and Wes Thornhill scored career highs with 22 and 14 points, respectively, and the DePauw defense limited Wabash to just 36 field goal attempts including only 13 in the first half on the way to a 73-62 win over the visiting Little Giants in the 182nd meeting between the two rivals.
DePauw improved to 1-2 with the win, while Wabash's three-game win streak came to an end as they slipped to 4-2. The Tigers extended their all-time lead in the series to 109-72-1 and the seniors finished with a 4-0 mark against Wabash.
The Tigers, playing without all-America candidate Joe Ringger who is on his way back after arthroscopic knee surgery last week, never trailed as they opened the game with a 15-2 run in the opening 8:25. That barrage ended with eight straight points from freshman Alex Stewart who was making his first collegiate start on the way to a career-best 12 points.
Meanwhile, the DePauw defense pressured the Little Giants into nine turnovers in their first 12 possessions.
"That start really gave us some confidence," DePauw head coach Bill Fenlon said.
DePauw still held a 24-12 lead after a layup by Joey Hanger with 3:09 left in the half, but Wabash rallied with the final nine points of the half as David Wagner hit a three, Joe DesJean added a basket and Jesse Burgess hit four free throws.
"I thought at the end of the half our guys tired a bit and we didn't get the substitutions right," Fenlon added.
A bucket by Jeremy Bettis and a three-pointer from Thornhill to open the half pushed the lead back to eight. The Tigers led 42-34 after Kip Chase scored for the Little Giants with 10:39 remaining. DePauw then rattled off a 9-1 run capped off with a three from Thornhill to make it 51-35 with 7:26 remaining.
Wabash got as close as seven at 67-60 after Chase buried a three-pointer with 35 seconds left. The Tigers hit all four free throws down the stretch to claim the win.
"The pace was up and we were pressuring them and made a lot of different people handle the ball,: Fenlon said of the Tigers' defensive effort.
Brady Claxton led Wabash with 13, while DesJean, a preseason all-America selection, was held to just 12 and only three rebounds along with two blocked shots.
Bettis added 12 points and a game-high nine rebounds along with two blocks and two steals.
Wabash shot 50 percent from the floor including 56.5 percent in the second half, while DePauw hit just 38 percent for the contest. The Tigers outrebounded the Little Giants 33-27 and hauled down 17 offensive rebounds led by Todd Humerickhouse's five off the offensive glass.
DePauw also got a big boost off the bench from Derek Lawrence who scored six points and grabbed four boards in 12 minutes in just his second collegiate game.
DePauw faces Indiana University-Southeast on Friday, December 13, in the first game of the Franklin College Goaltenders-Bankers Classic. Wabash hosts North Coast Athletic Conference foe Denison on Sunday.