What a difference a week makes. After capping a three-game losing streak with a crushing loss in which they scored a meager 37 points on Dec. 18, the Wittenberg Tigers bounced back in stunning fashion to take first place in the Charles B. Zimmerman Memorial Classic with a 61-60 win over second-ranked Mount Union.
It is believed that Mount Union is the highest ranked team Wittenberg women's basketball has ever defeated, although it figures to take some more exhaustive research to make a final determination. It is safe to say that the win is a landmark for Head Coach Sarah Jurewicz, as she took down the first ranked team in her six years at the helm thanks to a free throw with two-tenths of a second left on the clock by sophomore Enri Small (Columbus, Ohio/Columbus School for Girls).
The win was Wittenberg's first against a ranked team since March 6, 2004, when the Tigers upended 15th-ranked Messiah on the road in the second round of the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Small's heroics were set up by a tremendous back-and-forth second half as Mount Union rallied from a nine-point halftime deficit, only to see the Tigers battle back in the closing minutes to secure a most improbable victory. Mount Union led by as many as four points as late as the 3:38 mark, but Wittenberg closed the game on a 7-2 run, starting with a lay-up by sophomore Katelyn Haralamos (Maineville, Ohio/Kings).
A short jumper by sophomore Amber Lara (Oak Park, Ill./River Forest) tied the game with 2:30 remaining, and the Tigers took the lead with 59 seconds left on a lay-up by sophomore Karen Daniel-Hamberg (Columbus, Ohio/Grandview). After the Purple Raiders had a lay-up rim out, the Tigers missed a free throw and Mount Union responded by tying the game on a lay-up by Marybeth Leitch with 10 seconds left.
That's when Jurewicz put the game in Small's hands and she came up with a strong drive that resulted in a foul by Mount Union's Aly Daniel. Small made the first free throw to give the Tigers back-to-back home tournament wins for the first time since Wittenberg won five in a row between 1988 and 1992.
Wittenberg defeated Wilmington to win the 2011 Charles B. Zimmerman Memorial Classic.
The Tigers were paced by Haralamos with 21 points and six rebounds as she picked up Tournament MVP honors. Small, who also earned all-tournament team honors, added 12 points and five rebounds, while Lara chipped in a game-high six assists to go along with four points and three rebounds for the Tigers, who shot 50 percent from the field in the first half and 43 percent for the game.
Wittenberg won despite being outrebounded by 12 as Mount Union piled up 19 offensive boards among its 45 caroms overall. The Purple Raiders were unable to overcome 29 percent shooting in the first half and 34 percent shooting overall.