Denison men draw Alma in NCAA First Round

Denison men draw Alma in NCAA First Round

Denison will play Alma College in Cleveland, Ohio in the first round of the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournament.  The four-team pod will be played at John Carroll University with the Denison-Alma game taking place at 5 p.m.

This is Denison's first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since the 1996-97 season and the program's second NCAA Division III Tournament appearance, overall.  In 1997, the Big Red was shipped to Holland, Mich. where they suffered a 69-66 loss to Hope College.  Prior to the formation of Division III, Denison qualified for the NCAA Small College Regional Tournament in 1968.

This year's squad received the North Coast Athletic Conference's automatic qualifier after capturing the program's first-ever NCAC Tournament title on Saturday.  The Big Red were forced to run the gauntlet in the conference tournament, defeating perennial powers Wittenberg, Ohio Wesleyan and Wooster for the right to cut down the nets in Delaware, Ohio.

Alma qualified by winning the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Tournament.  This is Alma's first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance.  The other two teams in the regional were the host, John Carroll (25-3) who will face St. Vincent (22-6) at 8 p.m.

In the three NCAC tournament games, Denison's offense was firing on all cylinders.  They shot 54 percent as a team and 51 percent on 3-point field goals.  They knocked down 36 3-pointers in three games while also shooting 82 percent from the free throw line.  As the pressure built, they got better.  In the second half versus Wittenberg, Wooster and Ohio Wesleyan, DU shot 63 percent as a team and 56 percent (20-of-36) from beyond the arc.

David Meurer was named the NCAC Tournament's Most Valuable Player after averaging 22.0 ppg.  He was 8-for-12 from downtown (.667) and 21-for-35 from the floor (.600).

Jett Speelman followed at 21.7 ppg while averaging a team-high 34 minutes per game in the tournament.  DU's wildcard throughout the tournament was Matthew Bauer.  He shot 67 percent from long range (10-for-15) and averaged 14.3 ppg.

On the season, Speelman paces the team at 18.3 ppg while Meurer follows at 14.6.  Darius White also averages double-digits at 10.1 ppg.

Nationally, Denison is 25th in 3-point field goals made and 20th in free throw percentage and White ranks 13th in 3-point field goal percentage at 45 percent.

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