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Denison upsets No. 18 Wittenberg

Robby Weingart's 3-pointer with 1:16 to play tied the game at 60-60.
Robby Weingart's 3-pointer with 1:16 to play tied the game at 60-60.

Denison connected on three 3-pointers over the final 2:09 to upset No. 18 Wittenberg 63-60 from Pam Evans-Smith Arena in Springfield, Ohio.  The win marked Denison's first over a Top-25 team this season.

Trailing 56-50 with 4:12 to play, Denison junior Briggs King got momentum flowing in favor of the Big Red when he scored down low, pulling DU to within four.  Both teams would come up empty on its next possessions, but junior Robby Weingart, who was quietly having one of his best games of the season, stole a pass from Wittenberg's Brock Kiesler and went the length of the court to pull his squad to within two at 56-54 with 2:42 remaining.

After a Denison timeout, Wittenberg's Steven Newell would split a pair of free throws.  At the other end, Brad Woolard displayed supreme confidence when he drilled a step-back 3-pointer early in the shot clock to tie the game at 57-57 with 2:09 left.

Not to be outdone, Tigers' guard Zack Leahy would throw a knockout worthy blow when he answered with a 3-pointer from the left wing to put Wittenberg back on top, 60-57 with 1:49 on the clock.

Denison opted not to call a time out and the Big Red quickly went into its motion offense.  With 1:16 remaining, Weingart took a handoff and curled around a screen from Alex Longi and drilled his third triple of the contest, deadlocking the game at 60-60 with just over one minute to play.

Wittenberg would counter with a 3-point try by Shane Edwards.  The ball would go out of bounds on the rebound with possession awarded to the Big Red.  Again, opting to play rather than call a time out, Bob Ghiloni's squad calmly ran its offense until Woolard swung a pass to an open King, who connected on the eventual game-winning 3-pointer with 25 seconds left.

Wittenberg's Leahy would miss a potential game-tying 3-pointer with 10 seconds left but an offensive rebound by Cole Bond gave the Tigers a second chance.  After inbounding the ball with five seconds on the clock, Denison smartly fouled the Tigers with three seconds left, sending Cody Phillippi to the line where he missed the first and intentionally missed the second, hoping for a tip-out for a possible 3-point try.  After missing on purpose, Phillippi got his own rebound but was tied up by Denison's Longi who ripped the ball away as time expired.

While Denison's fearless 13-4 run over the final four minutes was what clinched the win, it was DU's perseverance after a less than ideal start that was the real story.  The Big Red did not score its first point until the clock read 12:46 in the first half.  Luckily, Wittenberg had managed just seven points during that opening 7:14 of the contest.  While DU started the game 0-for-8 from the field, Wittenberg wasn't much better, going 3-of-11 over the same span.

Over the final 12 minutes of the first half, Denison would outscore Wittenberg 23-14 to take a 28-26 lead into the locker room.

The Tigers would open the second half with a 3-pointer and would lead the entire second half, until King's game-winning 3-pointer with 25 seconds left.  Wittenberg's largest second half lead would be seven, which came with 6:57 to play after a Scott Masin layup.

Denison was led by Longi's 14 points, seven rebounds, and six assists in 33 minutes.  Weingart scored 13 points in 22 minutes off the bench.  He was 5-of-8 from the field and 3-of-5 from beyond the arc.  King and Woolard both added eight points apiece while David Meurer chipped in seven points and four assists from his point guard spot.

Wittenberg was led by Masin's 14 points and 11 rebounds in 29 minutes.  Leahy finished with 13 points while Edwards and Bond both scored eight.

DU shot 42 percent from the field while the Tigers connected on 43 percent of its shot attempts.  From long range, Denison was 10-for-26 while Wittenberg struggled, going 6-for-21.

The win moves Denison to 5-7 in the NCAC and 9-10 overall while Wittenberg drops to 15-4 and 9-3 in league play.  This is Denison's first win over a nationally ranked opponent since Feb. 24, 2012 when they defeated Wittenberg 66-58 on its home court, eliminating the top-seeded Tigers from the 2012 NCAC Tournament.

Denison will return to action on Wednesday (Feb. 5) when they travel to Oberlin for an 8 p.m. tip-off against the Yeomen who are also coming off a victory over a ranked opponent.  They upset No. 23 DePauw on Saturday, 62-60.

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