With only four games in the books one thing is certain, Denison's mettle has been tested. It was established in Saturday's bounce-back win over Hanover after a 3-point loss to Otterbein. It was verified tonight in a pesky 80-79 victory over Case Western Reserve.
Denison trailed by 10 on two different occasions in the second half, but strong free throw shooting and a commitment at the defensive end wound up pushing the Big Red to the victory.
Denison tied the game at 79-79 with 2:09 to play after two Matthew Bauer free throws. Over the next 90 seconds, both teams came up dry on the offensive end. The Big Red looked to have the game in its hands when they came up with the rebound after a missed 3-pointer by Case's Jimmy Holman. DU called a timeout with 23 seconds remaining and the score still tied at 79-79 to set up a final shot.
Case would proceed to pressure Denison guard David Meurer after the ball was inbounded. As Meurer was attempting to drive to the basket he was fouled with 13 seconds left. Although not in the act of shooting, Denison was in the double bonus and Meurer split the pair of free throws, giving the Big Red a one point lead.
Now, with a chance to win, Case's Matt Clark took a 3-pointer from the baseline that was blocked by Bauer. The ball went out of bounds with two seconds left on the clock, giving the Spartans one last chance. This time, Case went to Eric Black who took one dribble just beyond the foul line and lifted a potentially game-winning jumper. Black's shot was off the mark and Denison came away with the hard-fought win.
The Big Red shot 17-of-19 from the free throw line and was 13-of-15 from the line in the second half. The 3-point arc was also kind to DU as they connected on 44 percent (7-of-16) from long range.
Four Big Red players reached double-figures, led by Jett Speelman's 15 points and Baurer's 14 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots. The Denison bench outscored Case 39-29 led by Patrick Keller's 13 points and 11 points from Meurer. Devon Pitts also added nine points and six rebounds in 26 minutes.
Clark scored 20 points for the Spartans while Black followed with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
With the win, Denison improves to 3-1 while CWRU falls to 4-2. The Big Red will return to action on Saturday, November 28 when they travel to North Carolina for a 2 p.m. tip-off against Division I Davidson College.