Wittenberg downs Birmingham South.
Brown improves to 8-0 in first-round NCAA tournament games
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Wittenberg head coach Bill Brown improved to 8-0 in first-round NCAA Division III Tournament games as the Tigers overcame a lengthy delay due to inclement weather in the area to defeat Birmingham-Southern 63-56 on Friday night.
Tthe Tigers led for most of the game but still needed to hit 5-of-6 free throws in the final 31 seconds to secure the victory.
Brown's Tiger teams have advanced to the second round in each of his 12 NCAA Division III Tournament appearances, including four times by virtue of having a bye. The win against Birmingham-Southern, which was making its first NCAA tournament appearance since transitioning to Division III, followed a familiar pattern as Wittenberg combined a bruising post game with a stout defensive effort.
The game featured a clash of styles as the Panthers offered an up-tempo, perimeter-oriented offensive style in combination with full-court pressure for most of the game. But it was 22nd-ranked Wittenberg that imposed its will, shooting 54 percent from the field (on 12 less attempts) and outrebounding 13th-ranked Birmingham-Southern 32-25.
The Panthers did manage to force 15 turnovers, but it was Birmingham Southern's Blaise White who was charged with the most untimely miscue. Clinging to a precarious three-point lead, Wittenberg forced a White turnover with just 23 seconds left. Clayton Black responded with two free throws, and then Michael Cooper put the game out of reach, rebounding the ensuing 3-pointer and draining a pair of foul shots.
Josh McKee led both teams with 18 points. Alex Brandt bounced back from a sub-par North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament to contribute 14 points, while Black finished with 13 points and a game-high eight rebounds.
The Panthers, who saw their season end with a 25-3 overall record after winning the SCAC regular season title, were limited to 35 percent shooting from the field. Not only did Wittenberg, which improved to 22-6 overall, shoot 54 percent from the field, including a 7-of-16 performance from 3-point range, the Tigers knocked down 14-of-18 free throws.