Wabash Opens Season with Tough Matchups vs. Centre and Hanover
On Saturday, November 6, Wabash Basketball kicked off the 2021- 2022 season with a win against Centre College. The Little Giants came out on fire in the first half, quickly establishing a 10-point lead over the opponents. However, this wouldn’t last, and the Colonels began slowly catching up and ended the half ahead by three points. The script was flipped in the second half with Centre building a 10-point lead right out of the gate. But the Wabash team kept its cool. After switching to more aggressive defense, the Little Giants began forcing a lot of turnovers. This defensive momentum jump-started the offense and Wabash regained control of the game, taking a 3-point lead with just under 3 minutes left on the clock.
Wabash was able to hold the lead for the next three minutes. As time ran out, Centre was forced to foul, and the Little Giants pushed their lead to two possessions. Wabash prevailed with a final score of 74-70.
Both teams had 11 turnovers and 14 points from the free throw line. This was a strong first outing for Wabash Basketball. Except for a few minutes at the start of the second half, the team was consistently scoring throughout the game.
Despite the strong performance, the Little Giants were not without flaw, as they only shot 8-27 from outside the arch with a poor 29.6% three point percentage and struggled to create defensive stops for most of the game.
The player of the game would be Tyler Watson ’22, who led the team in scoring with 27 points while adding nine rebounds and five assists. Surprisingly, Jack Davidson ’22 only managed to put up 7 points in 33 minutes of play time, a far cry from his 20.1 average during the 2019-2020 season. This was definitely not a game to be ashamed of. However, better defense, fewer fouls, and more consistency from three point range will be necessary for Wabash to have a successful season.
Wabash returned to Chadwick Court on Wednesday, November 10 for its regular season home opener against Hanover College. The Little Giants lost in a nail biting 83-81 clash. Unlike in their matchup against Centre, the Little Giants were stuck in a tight matchup from the tip-off.
The first half, which featured several lead changes, ended with the Panthers ahead 38-35. The second half was a challenge, with Wabash once again trying to catch up again to the opponent’s dominant lead.
The team spent the remainder of the game trying to tie the game. The Little Giants made significant progress later in the half getting within 3 with about 2 minutes on the clock, but were prevented from tying it up by their weak defense. The game was sealed by an unintentional foul that took place in the last ten seconds of the game allowing Hanover to reinstate a two possession lead. Davidson tried to salvage the situation, scoring a threepointer right as the buzzer sounded.
Once again the Little Giants scored well throughout the game. However, their defense was lackluster to say the least. Late in the second half, Wabash was putting up plenty of points but couldn’t create the defensive stops required to tie the game. The 22 fouls committed on Wednesday night were a main contributor to the team’s defensive collapse.
Hanover demonstrated far superior ball movement with 13 assists more than doubling Wabash’s 6. At the very least Davidson was back to his usual self, dropping an incredible 33 points, several of which came in the last two minutes of the game.
It was a special night as Chadwick hosted fans for the first time in over a year. The energy throughout the game was buzzing, and at many times the arena was hard to hear. “It’s a great feeling having all these people back,” Kyle Brummett, Head Basketball Coach, said. “Everyone’s missed it. We played badly. I think we’re all a little too amped up. But, you know, it’s great to have the support that we’ve done.”
There are three main takeaways the Little Giants will need to keep with them for the remainder of the season. First, they need to come out ready to play in the second half. Second, they need to play better defense. Third, they have to foul less; committing 22 fouls is ridiculous, and if Hanover hadn’t gone 17-28 from the charity stripe this game would not have been particularly close.
Wabash sits at 1-1 to start off the year after two tough contests. The Little Giants certainly have the talent and drive to win a lot this season, but the road does not get any easier. Next, Wabash faces No. 3-ranked Marietta College on November 19 in the Great Lakes Invitational before matching up with No. 13-ranked Emory University the next day on November 20. The expectations are high for this Little Giant squad, and these two opening games give Wabash plenty to improve upon.