SPRINGFIELD, Ohio—Wittenberg men's basketball continued their scorching hot start to 2017-18, as the Tigers improved to 11-0 on the year with an 83-70 win over #19 Marietta on Saturday night. The Tigers dominated the Hilltoppers of OU-Chillicothe the night before, as Wittenberg handled the Pioneers of Marietta in Saturday night's marquee matchup; the 2017 Kiwanis Holiday Classic Championship. Chad Roy led the Tigers with 37 points and 15 rebounds in the two-day tournament, as the senior was named tournament MVP. Freshman forward James Johnson also earned all-tournament team honors after posting 30 points and 12 rebounds in two contests. Wittenberg knocked off their first ranked opponent of the season, as Marietta had knocked off #16 Hanover at Pam Evans Smith Arena the night before.
HOW IT HAPPENED: Wittenberg trailed early on after a slow start from the floor, but managed to cut the early Marietta double-digit lead to four at 21-17 with 9:04 remaining in the first half. After Roy completed an and-one free throw with 8:03 remaining, the Tigers found themselves back in the ball game with score deadlocked at 23-23. Marietta continued to force the issue on offense, growing their lead to six at 36-30 with under two-minutes remaining in the half. Wittenberg clawed back in the waning seconds of first half, as the Pioneers hung on to a 36-35 lead at the break. Out of the break, Connor Seipel took over as the sophomore scored or assisted on the first six tiger points, as Wittenberg jumped out to a 41-36 lead with 17:59 remaining in regulation. The Tigers grew their lead to 10 as Johnson splashed home a jumper to make the game 49-39, as Marietta went nearly six minutes without recording a point. The Tigers largest lead of the game came with six minutes remaining at 58-41, before Marietta finally managed to take the lid off and record a field-goal. Down the stretch, the Pioneers would not go away, connecting on their free-throws as the Tigers managed to find themselves in some foul trouble after Roy fouled out with three minutes remaining in regulation. Marietta got as close as 77-70 before Jacob Bertemes and Mitchell Balser stood tall at the free-throw line to put the game away for the Tigers at 83-70.
WHO STOOD OUT: Johnson paced the Tigers with 16 points on five of eight shooting off the bench for the Tigers, as Bertemes (14), Roy (13) and Seipel (12) all recorded double-digit scoring nights. Roy recorded a double-double after pulling down 11 boards, and shut down Marietta's low-post action all night long. Seipel (7), Johnson (6) and Jordan Pumroy (5) also helped the Tigers clean up the glass in the home-victory. Balser and Seipel also recorded three steals each, as Bertemes, Seipel and Roy all recorded one block each for the Tigers.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: The Tigers shot nearly 44% from the floor as a team, while holding Marietta to 25 of 71 on field goal attempts, for 35%. Leading by as many as 17, Wittenberg outrebounded the Pioneers 48-34 and outscored Marietta 44-24 in the paint. Wittenberg's bench shined in the victory, tallying 29 points as a unit.
UP NEXT: Wittenberg is back in action on January 3 at Kenyon College. Tip-off is set for 7:30PM from Gambier, as Wittenberg's schedule turns to strictly NCAC contests.