HIRAM, OHIO — The Hiram College men's basketball team couldn't quite rally from a 16-point second half deficit as the Terriers fell to Denison University, 81-74, this afternoon (Saturday, Feb. 4) in a North Coast Athletic Conference game in Granville.
With the loss, the Terriers are now 12-9 overall and 5-7 in the NCAC. The Big Red improve to 9-12 overall and 6-6 NCAC.
Both teams played at a back-and-forth pace in the first 10 minutes of the opening half with a total of nine lead changes. Just past the midway point of the period, Denison went on a 9-0 scoring run that gave the Big Red an eight-point edge, 27-19, at the 7:06 mark. Denison never trailed in the half again, but Hiram battled back to within four points late in the half, 32-28, on a three-pointer by senior guard Andrew Wiegand (Amherst/Firelands), one of his four triples on the day, with 3:56 left before halftime. The Big Red answered again with an ensuing 6-0 run to go up by 10 points, 38-28, on its way to an eight-point lead at the break, 42-34.
Denison extended the lead back to double-figures to begin the second half and led by as many as 16 points, 58-42, with 13:14 left to play. Hiram then began to chip away at the deficit outscoring the Big Red, 19-8, to get to within five points, 66-61, thanks to a layup by senior guard Jamaal Watkins (South Euclid/Brush) at the 6:29 mark. The Terriers later got as close as three points on two occassions, including a 72-69 deficit with 2:54 remaining following a pair of free-throws by sophomore guard Aaron Stefanov (Stow/Stow-Munore Falls). Denison responded with an ensuing 6-0 run to build the lead back to a more comfortable nine points, 78-69, with 2:15 to go. Hiram again got to within striking distance, narrowing the gap to four points, 78-74, with just under a minute remaining. But a triple by the Big Red on their next possession would seal the victory for Denison by the final of 81-74.
Denison shot 49.2 percent (30-of-61) from the field and was led by Dimonde Hale with a game-high 23 points on 10-of-16 shooting (62.5 percent) and also grabbed a team-tying high eight rebounds. Larry Farmer was second in scoring with 14 points. Three other Big Red players scored in double-figures with Alex Longi, Jim Leffew and Mike Garabedian all scoring 10 points.
Hiram shot 46.6 percent (27-of-58) from the field, including 10-of-10 at the free-throw line. The Terriers were led by Wiegand who scored 21 points on eight-of-15 shooting (53.3 percent), including four-of-eight (50.0 percent) from three-point range. He also pulled down nine boards and had four assists. Watkins was second in scoring with 16 points and had a game-high 10 rebounds. Junior guard Alan Sheppard (Wadsworth) scored 14 points in addition to dishing out a game-high seven assists. Rounding out the high scorers was Stefanov with 12 points.
Hiram will play its next three games at home at Price Gymnasium beginning with a NCAC matchup against Allegheny (Pa.) College on Wednesday, Feb. 8. The game will be part of a basketball doubleheader with the Terrier women's team. The women will also take on the Gators at 6 p.m., followed by the men at 8 p.m.