In an astounding turn of events, Wabash has knocked off NCAC regular-season champions Wooster in an 81-80 shootout at the Timkin Gymnasium on February 25, 2023.
It was a high-scoring contest. With six minutes left in the half, both teams found themselves in the double bonus. Wabash’s Ahmoni Jones ’24 made the go-ahead two-point jumper with ten seconds left in regulation, giving the Little Giants their second consecutive NCAC championship.
Just one week prior in the last regular-season game of the year, Wabash lost to Wooster on a last-second three pointer from Turner Kurt, putting the Fighting Scots over the Little Giants 75-74, making them regular season champions. Being the undisputed second place finishers in the NCAC, the Little Giants knew that the odds of meeting Wooster again in the NCAC tournament were high. With each team cruising through each side of their respective bracket, a rematch of last year’s final seemed to be inevitable.
Once the game began, Wabash jumped out to an early lead, capitalizing on excellent shooting across the court. Freshman center Gavin Schippert ’26 hit two threes in the game’s opening minute and led all Wabash scorers with 17.
“This is the best my shot has felt all year,” said Schippert. “I’ll get back into the gym this week to try and keep it like that for the NCAA tournament.
This early shooting would see Wabash to a 17-point lead in the first half, but Wooster would answer with a barrage of three pointers from Jamir Billings, cutting the lead to one with 10:48 left in the second half.
“We had a great game plan and we stuck to it,” said Edreece Redmond ’24. “We got up big, they came back to take the lead, but we always stayed together.”
But it was Wabash’s playmaking down the stretch and Jones’s clutch shot that gave Wabash the crucial lead it needed in the final seconds, clinching the tournament win.
“I have worked for these types of moments all my life, and it just feels good knowing that it’s paying off,” said Jones. “More than anything though, I have great teammates who have so much faith in me, and it gets me through it all. We’re feeling really good, but unsatisfied. We’re going to play our hearts out.”
Fouls were abundant throughout the contest, with barely a possession going by without some sort of off-ball debauchery. Both teams shot well from the charity stripe, with Wabash shooting 85% and Wooster shooting 76%. However, Wabash was more efficient from the field, shooting 51% to Wooster’s 47%. These stats reflect the tightness of the contest, with the score bouncing back and forth for the last ten minutes.
With 21 seconds left on the clock, a pair of Elijah Meredith free throws gave Wooster an 80-79 lead. Wabash brought the ball down the court and gave the ball to Jones, the team’s most clutch scorer this season. Jones ducked and weaved at the elbow, as is his custom, and rose up off of a shot fake and drilled the jumper, sealing the victory for Wabash.
“Celebrating with the team was amazing,” said Peter Leithauser ’24, the only Sphinx Club fan in attendance. “Just to see the joy on their faces and celebrate with my friends was awesome.”
Wabash players and fans alike celebrated with the team, since this win marks only the second time ever that Wabash has won the tournament since joining the NCAC in 1999, with the first time being last season.
By winning the tournament, Wabash automatically earns themselves a ticket to the NCAA Men’s Division III National Tournament, with the schedule of the tournament to be determined.
Wabash won’t have to wait very long to find out their seed. The selection show will happen on Monday, February 27, where the Little Giants will find out whether or not they will host a section of the tournament.
This story is ongoing. Check back later for further updates.