Wittenberg crushes Carroll
First-half run lifts Tigers past Pioneers, into round of 16
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- It couldn't have come at a better time. After struggling down the stretch of the 2011-12 season, Wittenberg put together perhaps its finest performance to date in an 87-70 NCAA tournament victory against Carroll.
The win, which came less than 24 hours after a 63-56 first-round win against Birmingham-Southern, moved the Tigers into the round of 16 for the 21st time in 26 NCAA Division III appearances. Wittenberg advanced to face North Central, which defeated Washington-St. Louis.
The Pioneers were not allowed to jump out to a big, early lead. The Tigers came out strong, turning an 8-6 deficit with 14:19 remaining in the first half into a commanding 22-8 lead by stringing together 16 consecutive points over the next five minutes.
After the run, the Tigers capped their best offensive half of the season by carrying a 48-30 lead into the locker room. It was Wittenberg's highest point total in a half during the 2011-12 season, topping the 47 points scored in the first half of an 80-54 win against Monmouth (Ill.).\
Over the final 20 minutes, Wittenberg kept Carroll at arm's length thanks to continued solid shooting and an absolutely dominant performance on the glass. The Tigers outrebounded Carroll 39-22 in the game, led by senior Josh McKee with 10 boards, part of his first career double-double (12 points).
The game's top scorer was senior Michael Cooper, who poured in 18 points and four rebounds. Senior Clayton Black added 13 points and four rebounds, and senior Alex Brandt finished with 10 points and six boards.
For the second consecutive night, Wittenberg finished above 50 percent shooting from the field, knocking down 29-of-54. That included another solid performance from long distance, as the Tigers finishing 11-of-26 from 3-point range. Carroll shot the ball well also, finishing at 46 percent from the field, including 44 from beyond the arc, but the Pioneers were just 15-of-25 from the free throw line.