The Emory men's basketball team saw its 2018-19 season come to an end Friday evening as it dropped a NCAA D-III Tournament opening-round game to Wittenberg University on the campus of Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina. The No. 17 Tigers move into the second round after winning for the 11th consecutive time and boosting their overall record to 24-5 following a 100-88 decision over the 18th-ranked Eagles who finished the year at 20-6 overall.
Sophomore Matt Schner came through with a big effort for Emory, topping all players with 25 points (second-highest career total) and tying for game honors with seven rebounds. Schner capped off the evening hitting 10-of-13 field goal attempts, including four treys in six opportunities, in chalking up his 20th double-figure scoring effort of the campaign and third of 20 or more points. Sophomore Matt Davet totaled 19 points, his 22nd outing of 10 or more points this season, while classmates Romin Williams and Lawrence Rowley rounded out the team's double-digit scorers with 15 points apiece.
After a Wittenberg basket to open the second half gave it a 12-point edge, Schner scored four points of a 6-0 spurt to slice the Eagles' deficit in half. Emory stayed within striking, drawing to within five points on four occasions, the final time with 12:37 remaining, when a three-pointer by Williams, one of his three for the game, cut WU's edge to 64-59. The Tigers responded with seven straight points over a one-minute stretch to build their cushion back to 12 points before Emory mounted another comeback bid, using a 7-2 burst, ignited by a Williams trey, to creep to within seven points with 8:22 remaining. The Tigers then accounted for the game's next six points, upping its lead to 79-66, with 6:53 on the clock. A bucket by Rowley cut the gap to 10 points with 4:27 left, but Wittenberg's Jake Bertemes scored the first five of seven straight Tiger points to bolt to a commanding 89-72 margin with 3:26 on the clock. Bertemes led Wittenberg with 22 points.
Emory ended the games shooting 55.9 percent (33-of-59) from the floor, its second-highest mark of the year and 11th outing of 50 percent or better, while the Tigers posted an opponent season-high 59.3 percent effort (35-of-59). Both teams were effective from beyond the arc with Wittenberg shooting 55 percent (11-of-20) to Emory's 43.5 percent (10-of-23).
After a three-pointer by Schner drew the Eagles to within one point at 33-32 with 7:33 left in the first half, Wittenberg went on a 9-0 spurt, keyed by four points by Bertemes to claim a 10-point edge with 5:00 left in the stanza. Trailing by an 11-point margin, Schner personally accounted for a 5-0 Eagle spurt that narrowed their deficit to six points with 2:47 on the clock. The Tigers then responded with six unanswered points that allowed them to register their largest lead of the half at 12 points, 51-39, with 1:13 remaining, before a bucket by Davet with 32 ticks on the clock closed out the scoring for the half. Schner topped Emory's scoring attack with 14 points, hitting all five field goal attempts, including all three of his three-point tries, while Davet added 11. The Eagles shot a blazing 65.2 percent (15-of-23) from the floor during the opening 20 minutes of action, but were hampered by an uncharacteristic 13 turnovers that the Tigers parlayed into 22 points. Emory wound up the game with 17 miscues, tying its second-highest total of the year.
The game closed out the careers of Emory seniors Gebereal Baitey, Beau Bommarito, Spencer Osborne and Joey Katz.