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Yellow Jacket Tournament History

The Baldwin Wallace University men's basketball program has a rich, winning tradition that includes six Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament titles and seven appearances in the NCAA Division III National Tournament since 1972, including last season in 2018-2019.

An OAC Tournament Title Last Year

A year ago, BW finised 21-9 overall, won the 019 OAC Tournament title by winning three straight games on the road and advancing to the second round of the NCAA Division III National Tournament.

Steve Bankson and the 1990s

During the decade of the '90s, the Yellow Jackets again had great success. But success in both the Ohio Athletic Conference and the NCAA Division III National Championship tournaments is not new in Berea.

From the 1995-1996 season to the end of the 2006-2007 campaign, veteran Head Coach Steve Bankson's program advanced to the Final Four of the prestigious OAC Championship five times, winning it four times and earning a spot in the national tourney. Five times since 1994-95, the Yellow Jackets have advanced into the NCAA Division III National Tournament. Four times it has been via an automatic berth by winning the OAC Tournament title, and in 1994-95, it was by receiving an At-Large bid to the "Big Dance."

BW's trip to the NCAA tourney in 1994-95 may have been its most exciting. BW had a strong season with a solid 19-9 overall record. B‑W was seeded eighth in the regional tourney and drew the top seed in the Great Lakes Region and the number one team in Division III, Hope College of Michigan.

The Yellow Jackets defeated Hope, 72-69, on its home floor on a shot at the final buzzer by then sophomore guard Ryan Sooy. Hope entered the game with the best home record in Division III and in Division III tourney history. It was a great win for BW and quite possibly the biggest win since BW turned Division III in 1972.

BW then traveled to traditional rival Wittenberg University, which was ranked fourth in Division III. BW and Wittenberg have always been rivals, but this time it took on more importance. It was the first time that BW would face Wittenberg since the Tigers left the OAC in 1990 and joined the North Coast Athletic Conference.

Besides that, Wittenberg was second to Hope as the toughest place to play in Division III and in Division III Tournament history.
So what did the Jackets do? They beat the Tigers on their home floor, 74-70. It was another outstanding game that came down to the final minutes with BW winning and advancing to Illinois Wesleyan for the "Sweet 16."
This BW team had advanced the furthest ever in the Division III National Tournament, and it had gained respect both regionally and nationally. BW ended the "Cinderella Season" at Illinois Wesleyan when it lost to the host school and eventual Division III national runner-up. In 1996, BW won the OAC Tournament title in dramatic fashion when then junior Jason Frolo made a free throw with no time remaining on the clock to beat Marietta College in the championship game at Ohio Northern University in Ada, 60-59. It was BW's first OAC tourney crown since the 1966-67 season. It again added validity to the program that it was one of the best in the OAC.
The Yellow Jackets then traveled back to Springfield to play Wittenberg for the second straight season in the Great Lakes Regional tourney. This time the Tigers prevailed, 70-61, in another close game.
In 1998, the Yellow Jackets won the OAC Tournament title as they beat host Otterbein College in Westerville in the championship game, 83-80. That victory allowed BW to host its first-ever home NCAA Division III men's tournament game in the confines of the Rudolph Ursprung Gymnasium.
Although the Yellow Jackets eventually lost that game before a capacity crowd to Allegheny College of Pennsylvania, 97-88, it provided credence that the BW program is among the elite in both the Ohio Athletic Conference and the Great Lakes Region of Division III.
Into the 2000s with the Davis Brothers
The tradition is being carried into the 21st century. Two seasons ago, BW won the 2004-2005 OAC Tournament title with a thrilling first round, 78-76 overtime victory at Otterbein College. Then in the OAC Final Four, BW beat rival Mount Union College (85-50) in the semifinals and then defeated OAC and Cleveland cross-town rival John Carroll University (82-77) to win the title and advance to the NCAA Division III National Tournament.
In 2005-2006 BW won the OAC Tournament title with a 96-84 first round victory over Mount Union College. The Yellow Jackets then advanced to the OAC finals with a thrilling 64-63 victory over Wilmington in the semifinals and defeated Ohio Northern, 91-84, in double overtime to win the Conference title and advance to the NCAA Division III National Tournament.
In 2006-2007, BW went 18-9 and advanced to the OAC Tournament semifinals. During the season, Coach Steve Bankson reach the 400 win plateau at BW and Tori Davis became the schools all-time leading scorer at 2,232 career points.
This page was last updated by Kevin Ruple on March 27, 2019