HANOVER, IN. – A fast start and strong finish was the right combination Tuesday giving Wabash College its first 4-0 start since 1997. The Little Giants rolled past Hanover, 68-55.
Wes Zimmerman’s three-point shot with just under nine minutes to play in the first half gave the Little Giants a 14-point margin, 21-7. But the hosts narrowed it to three and trailed by just six at halftime.
The Panthers rallied behind Southport High School graduate Mike Case in the second half to pull within a single point, 44-45. The Little Giants responded with a 16-4 run capped by a Derek Bailey three-point basket, 61-48.
“That’s what the road does to you,” Coach Mac Petty said. “Teams aren’t going to back off on their own floor. We missed some easy baskets when they came back. What I told the guys is you’re getting an identity now, on the road like this, it’s steel. Steel bends but doesn’t break and that’s what happened, we bent but didn’t break.
“They never got it tied, never got the lead, and we got it right back up again.”
Wes Smith led the Little Giants with 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting and 3-of-4 at the free throw line. Brian Shelbourne scored 10 along with six assists and four rebounds. Derek Bailey had an energetic effort off the bench scoring 10 and collecting four rebounds.
Wabash shot 50 percent for the night to Hanover’s 38 percent.
It was the 53rd meeting between Hoosier rivals Wabash and Hanover.
The Little Giants will host the Pete Thorn Tournament this weekend with Otterbein, Randolph-Macon, and UW-LaCrosse providing nationally ranked competition.
Hanover fell to 1-2 with the Tuesday loss while Wabash’s 4-2 start is the best in 13 years.
“We have a group of guys who are playing well together and understanding what we want to do offensively and defensively,” Petty said. “I couldn’t be more proud of them.”