Wittenberg has lost four straight games at Hiram. Last year’s senior class, one of the strongest in many years, never beat the Terriers on the road.
That’s not a good sign for the Tigers, who need a win at Hiram at 4 p.m. today to finish third or fourth and claim a first-round home game in the North Coast Athletic Conference tournament on Tuesday. A loss could drop the Tigers to fifth place.
Of course, maybe playing on the road isn’t such a bad thing for this team. Wittenberg is 4-4 at home in NCAC play after losing 70-62 to DePauw at Pam Evans Smith Arena on Wednesday and 4-3 on the road.
“We’ve lost four league games at home,” Wittenberg coach Bill Brown said. “That’s just abominable. We had a real chance to seal third place (Wednesday). Now we’ve got to go to a place where we haven’t won in many years. Even then Wooster has to win at DePauw.”
The Tigers (15-9 overall) are tied with DePauw and Kenyon for third place at 8-7. If all three teams lose or all three teams win, then DePauw will get the third seed, and Wittenberg will get the fourth seed because DePauw swept Wittenberg and Wittenberg beat Kenyon in their lone matchup.
If DePauw loses at Wooster and Wittenberg loses and Kenyon beats last-place Allegheny, then Kenyon gets the third seed, and Wittenberg ends up with the fifth seed and would play at fourth-seeded DePauw in the first round.
There’s nothing the Tigers can do except worry about Hiram. The Terriers rallied in the final 10 minutes to beat Wittenberg 62-57 on Jan. 19. It was Hiram’s first win at Wittenberg in four years.
“You’ve got to guard their two wings, their leading scorers (Alan Sheppard and Aaron Stefanov),” Brown said. “One of them took it to us the whole game down there. The other one, who we did a great job on in the first half, took it to us in the second half. We just have to find a way to get some decent shots and make some of those shots.”
Wittenberg is also trying to avoid finishing with its worst ever record in NCAC play. It has never finished .500 or below in 23 seasons. If it wins today, it would equal its worst mark (9-7 in 2008-09).
“There’s no reason to dwell on it and just run people into the ground,” Brown said. “That’s not me, and that’s not the best tact. We just have to get rested up, prepare like we always do. Everyone knows what’s on the line.”