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Tigers hold off Big Red comeback in final minutes

Matt Doyle  |  Photo by Jace Delgado
Matt Doyle | Photo by Jace Delgado

GREENCASTLE, Ind. -- Despite a combined 48 points from junior Matt Doyle and senior Maxwell Siwik, Denison men's basketball was unable to secure their second-half rally on Wednesday night, as they fell to DePauw University, 95-87, at Neal Fieldhouse.

Shooting 10-of-14 for 71-percent from three-point territory on the night, the Tigers opened the second half on a 20-10 scoring run led by a combined 10 points from David Vogel and Nolan Ginther to take their largest lead of the night, 62-47, with 11:42 remaining.

The Big Red countered with a layup from Matt Gerics on the next possession, and following Ginther burying one of his two free throws, Siwik cut the DePauw lead down to 12, 63-51, after he connected with a layup at the 10:38 mark.

Denison's Jack Coulter proceeded to make it a 10-point game, 65-55, with a shot from beyond the arc just 31 seconds later, and after a missed attempt at the charity stripe from Jack VandeMerkt, senior Garrett Collier tallied one of his game-high nine assists when he found Doyle, who connected on the other end from three-point land to give Denison a single-digit deficit, 65-58, with 9:35 to play.

After Coulter and DePauw's Mason Hankins traded threes heading into a Denison timeout at the 7:20 mark, Doyle and Collier converted back-to-back layups over the next minute of play to only trail the Tigers by six, 73-67.

Following a pair of free throws by Coulter and a bucket from Doyle, the Big Red found themselves only down by two, 77-75, with less than four minutes to play in the game. DePauw countered on the other end with a VandeMerkt layup and free throws from Haskins, and after a missed three from Denison's Siwik at the top of the key, VandeMerkt threw it down at the rim to fuel an 8-0 Tiger scoring run to build their lead back to 10, 85-75, with 1:36 left on the night.

The Big Red refused to give in as senior Johnny Vernasco assisted Doyle and Coulter on a pair of threes over the next 48 seconds of action to bring it back to a six-point game, 87-81.

On the next possession, a foul from Collier put Haskins back at the line where he hit his first attempt but missed the second. Off the missed free throw, Collier logged his second three of the night to make it a four-point game, 88-84, at the 28-second mark.

Down by six with 26 seconds to play, Nick Felke fouls Collier to send him back to the charity stripe. After connecting on his first attempt, Collier sent the ball off the backboard and retrieved his own rebound before getting fouled and sent back to the line where he added two more free throws. The Big Red trailed by three, 90-87, with 20 seconds remaining.

Off the inbound, Doyle fouled Vogel, who hit both of his free throws to put DePauw back up by five, 92-87, with 19 seconds to go.

On the next possession, Denison gave the ball back to the Tigers after Collier lost the ball off his foot out of bounds at 13 seconds to play. Ginther and Hankins sank three of their final four free throws to end the game as they held off the Big Red for their third-straight win. DePauw now only trails DU by one game for sixth place in the latest North Coast Athletic Conference standings, holding a 6-9 conference mark, while Denison is now 7-8 in the NCAC.

Siwik added five rebounds to his 23 points on the night, shooting 7-of-15 from the field. Doyle complimented his career-best 25-point performance with three boards, two assists, and two steals. Coulter chipped in 13 points while Collier contributed 16 points and six rebounds with his nine assists. With 113 assists on the season, Collier now ranks ninth in school history for most assists in a season, surpassing Jason Barger's 109 assists (1997-1998) and David Meurer's 111 (2015-2016).

Leading the way for the Tigers, Hankins totaled a game-high 26 points on 6-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc, and VandeMerkt added 20 points and five rebounds, both off the bench. Vogel and Ginther combined for 30 points, while Vogel led the team with seven assists.

The Big Red will return to Livingston Gymnasium this Saturday, Feb. 10 when host the Gators of Allegheny College for Senior Day festivities at 3 p.m.

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