By Neil Riley
Four seconds remained on the clock as Bret Woolard ‘17 stepped up to the free throw line. The Tiger defenders on either side of him tensed as he set himself and shot.
The ball arched in the air and fell through the rim, ruffling the mesh net. The point put the Big Red at a comfortable but not out-of-reach three point lead over Wittenberg.
The Tigers prepared themselves for the final play of the game, and as the shooting guard ran along the baseline in search of a target downcourt, every fan in Livingston Gymnasium held their breath.
Finally, he fired, but was unable to find his target. The ball was caught by Woolard, icing the game.
The 75-72 DU victory came right after a heartbreaking 69-68 loss to the DePauw Tigers on Jan. 28.
The Big Red recovered from an 11-point halftime deficit against Wittenberg after poor shooting and a few key turnovers.
In the second half of the game, DU outscored DePauw 42-32 thanks to a season-high eight points from Andrew Castagnetti ‘17 and 11 points from David Meurer ‘17.
Ultimately, the Big Red could not hold on to convert their last second chances, sending their record to 10-8.
On Saturday, the squad was looking for retribution after a string of close losses. Patrick Keller ‘16, who played 15 minutes against the Tigers and scored four points, was proud of how the team was able to hang with Wittenberg for the whole game.
“It felt especially good to win this weekend because we pulled out a close one” the forward said. “We’ve lost eight games this year. Seven of them have been by five points or less. Right before the game we talked about the nuances of winning, and how we just need to make the smallest of changes to get a run going and string together some wins.”
Once again, against Wittenberg, the Big Red struggled in the first half and entered the break down by nine points. But thanks to Bret Woolard’s 28 point and four rebound performance, DU would rally all the way back to surprise the Tigers with excellent passing and clutch three-point shooting. The team improved their field goal percentage and shot 52 percent overall and 47.8 percent from three-point range.
Meurer credited the coaches for the improvement and the squad’s boost in confidence.
“The coaches have just instilled the mindset that we’re a really good basketball team when we do the little things well,” he said. “Screening, rebounding and solid shell defense are what we hang our hats on.”
The Big Red will return to action on Feb. 4 at home against Oberlin.