HIRAM, OHIO – The Hiram College men's basketball team held No. 21 nationally-ranked Wittenberg University to just 28.1 percent shooting for the game to give the Tigers their first conference loss of the season in a 65-51 win this afternoon (Saturday, Jan. 21) in a North Coast Athletic Conference game at Price Gymnasium.
With the win, the Terriers improve to 11-6 overall and 4-4 in the NCAC. The Tigers fall to 13-4 overall and 7-1 NCAC.
The Hiram defense held Wittenberg to 22.2 percent shooting (six-of-27) from the field in the first half, including 20.0 percent (three-of-15) from three-point range. The Terriers quickly jumped out to a sizeable lead early in the contest and had a 11-2 advantage at the 14:48 mark. Hiram reached a double-figure lead for the first time with 8:03 left to play in the period on a jumper by senior guard Jamaal Watkins (South Euclid/Brush) to make the score 16-5. Wittenberg got some offense going with five straight points to narrow the gap to 16-10, but Hiram went on a 12-5 scoring run to extend the margin back to double-digits with its largest lead of the half of 13 points, 28-15, with 1:28 left before the break. The Terriers went on to equal their largest lead with a halftime score of 30-17.
In the second half, Hiram looked to run away with the game in the early minutes and posted its largest margin of the game of 19 points on several occassions with the last one coming at the 11:22 mark thatnks to a three-point play by Watkins making the score 49-30. Momemtum then swung in favor of Wittenberg as the Tigers slowly began to chip away at the Hiram lead and would trail by only nine points, 57-48, with 3:30 left to play. Following a successful free-throw by Hiram to extend the lead to 10 points, Wittenberg pulled to within eights point on a pair of free-throws of its own, trailing 57-49 with 1:58 to go. But that would be as close as the Tigers would get as the Terriers went on an 8-2 run to end the game and sealed a 65-51 victory.
Wittenberg had two players score in double-figures with Josh McKee leading the way with 15 points on three-of-12 shooting (25.0 percent), but was seven-of-eight (87.5 percent) from the free-throw line. He also grabbed six rebounds. Clayton Black scored 12 points to go along with a game-high 11 rebounds.
Hiram shot 41.4 percent from the field (24-of-58), including eight-of-17 (47.1 percent) from behind the arc and 81.8 percent (nine-of-11) at the charity stripe. The Terriers were led in scoring by Watkins who scored a game-high 22 points on nine-of-17 shooting (52.9 percent). Junior guard Alan Sheppard (Wadsworth) was second with 17 points and senior guard Andrew Wiegand (Amherst/Firelands) rounded out the high scorers with 14 points and a team-high 10 boards. In addition, junior guard Justin Wisniewski (Macedonia/Nordonia) had a game-high seven assists.
Hiram will next travel to Meadville, Pa. for a NCAC game against Allegheny College on Wednesday, Jan. 25. The game will be part of a basketball doubleheader with the Terrier women's team. The women will take on the Gators at 6 p.m., followed by the men at 8 p.m.