Basketball skins Tigers in 89-79 rout
One of the oldest rivalries in college sports is always going to turn out an exciting game. But the rematch between the Wabash and DePauw basketball teams at Chadwick Court on Wednesday, February 1 was a step above. Every seat in the building was filled—except, of course, for the area designated for the Dannies student section. The crowd was into the game from the tip-off, giving the Little Giants all the momentum they needed as they cruised to an 89-79 victory.
Coming into this game, it was absolutely necessary for Wabash to win. The loss to the Tigers earlier in the season put the Little Giants at risk of falling out of the regular season conference race. The importance of the matchup was lost on nobody, and the atmosphere produced by the Wabash loyal reflected their will for the home team to win.
The contest got off to a terrifying start when the Tigers picked up a quick 9-2 lead. But then, the Little Giants went to work. They say great offense beats great defense, but DePauw doesn’t have a great offense. Aided by the riotous crowd, stretching from courtside up to the words “Chadwick Crazies” on the wall, Wabash took over the first half. Some fantastic defense kept the scoring to a minimum and forced both teams to prove their skills by getting into the basket. The first half ended with Wabash standing ahead 38-32.
“You can’t ask for anything more,” Vinny Buccilla ’25 said. “We have some of the best fans in the country. It really showed tonight, and we fed off that. We got off to a little slow start, but once you make a little run and the crowd gets into it, the game really just takes off from there.”
The second half opened with a firestorm of threes, with the two teams trading blows nearly every possession in the early minutes. Led by Buccilla, who went 3-3 from deep, and Ahmoni Jones ’24, who hit two from beyond the arch, Wabash won the shootout. The tug-of-war went on for the entire half, with both teams hitting clutch shots.
Entering the last minute of the game, the Tigers were unable to close the gap, forcing them to foul. With their opponents at the mercy of the crowd, the Little Giants pushed the lead to 10 as the time ran out, the final score 89- 79.
The Little Giants’ 40% three point shooting and 17-19 free throw shooting drowned the Tigers in a flood of scoring. In areas such as rebounds, assists, fouls and turnovers, the two teams were nearly identical. The home team also edged out a slight advantage in points in the paint, with 36 to DePauw’s 34.
Jones and Buccilla both went off for Wabash. Jones led scoring with 27 points, going 8-8 from the free throw line. Overall, he was 8-17 from the field, but his points always seemed to come at the perfect time. But the star of the show was Buccilla, who knocked 25 points off of 5-7 three point shooting, going 10-13 overall and leading the team in rebounds. Josh Whack ’26 came off the bench to score 14 points, individually tying the entire DePauw bench.
“I know coming into this game that coach has been really hard on me,” said Jones. “So, I’m making sure that I’m doing what I need to do defensively, and making sure I know what I’m doing offensively. I wanted to come into the game and make sure my defense spoke for itself and let the offense come to me.”
“We have some of the best fans in the country. It really showed tonight, and we fed off that.Vinny Buccilla ’25
Following the game, Wabash moved to 16-4, 9-2 NCAC, tied with OWU for second and half a game behind Wooster (16-4, 10-2 NCAC). The Tigers, now far removed from their minute in the spotlight, have fallen to 14-7, 6-6 NCAC.
“Our guys have got to be prepared to win the game in a bunch of different ways,” said Brumett. “That will be important come Saturday, but tonight the second half was so different than the first half. And I think looking forward to these next five games, our guys have to be mentally prepared to play the game that’s right in front of them and play the half that’s right in front of them.”
Wabash will continue its hunt for the top spot in the NCAC when they face Ohio Wesleyan University at Chadwick Court on Saturday, February 4.
“For Saturday, we’ll try to get our people to come back like they came tonight,” said Head Basketball Coach Kyle Brumett. “We’ll be trying to get our students energized like that, trying to get the town to come back. It was the best crowd we’ve had all year. And it’s supposed to be. We want to keep that going.”