Dec. 29 – WESTERVILLE, Ohio – Led by a pair of big halves from both juniors Paul Ortiz and Kelvin Jones, the Hiram College men's basketball team earned a 74-59 decision over Waynesburg University in the first day of the "Smokey Ballanger Classic" hosted by Otterbein University on Thursday afternoon.
Ortiz carried a majority of the load for the Terriers (4-6) in the opening half, tallying 15 points in the first 20 minutes. After the Yellow Jackets (4-6) scored the first bucket, Ortiz responded with a personal, 7-0, run. The junior connected on back-to-back jumpers before knocking down his first triple of the game at the 17:14 mark.
Accompanied by a jump shot from Ryan Greenwood, Ortiz helped the Terriers jump out to an 11-6 lead through the first eight minutes of the game.
Leading by just two points (11-9) with 11:19 to go in the opening half, Hiram put together a 9-0 run to open their first double-digit advantage.
Senior Joe Zoltowski posted a pair of free throws to open the swing, which was followed by a bucket from Jones and six more points from Ortiz. The guard buried his second triple at the 8:57 mark before converting an "old-fashioned" three-point play that gave Hiram a 21-9 lead.
The first-half advantage would grow to as many as 13 (24-11) on a three pointer by Sherman Dean III, before Waynesburg responded with a run to end the half.
Over the final 6:11 of the half, the Yellow Jackets used a 17-6 run to close the gap from 13 points, to just a basket (30-28) at the break. The lone buckets in the final minutes came on a three pointer from Jared Butler, and a layup by Brevin Dye.
Ortiz kept the Terriers afloat over the opening 20 minutes, matching a season-high for points in a half by scoring 15 of the team's 30. His 15 points marked the seventh time this season in which he has eclipsed double-digits in 20 minutes, tying his output in the first half of a loss to Geneva on Nov. 26.
With the game still in the balance at a two-point difference (34-32) in the second half, Jones went to work. He scored seven of nine points in a 9-2 run which opened the Terrier lead to 43-34 with 15 minutes to play in regulation.
Overall, the Terriers used the first eight minutes of the second half to outscore the Yellow Jackets 22-8 to blow the game open to a 16-point advantage. Jones tallied nine of the 22 points, while Marcel Rice added four of his eight second-half points. Dean capped the swing with his second three pointer of the half, running the lead to 52-36.
Waynesburg made one final push, pulling the game back to within five points (56-51) on a layup by Nick Valentic with 8:27 to play.
Over the final eight minutes, the Terriers locked down on the defensive end, giving up just three made buckets in the remaining time. Jones would add eight more points over the final eight minutes to help Hiram outscore Waynesburg 18-8 to walk away with the 15-point victory (74-59).
Just like Ortiz in the first, Jones shouldered the offensive workload in the second half, posting a double-digit scoring performance in a half for the 10th time this season. Jones totaled 17 points in the second stanza, coming five points shy of his season high of 22 (set in the first half against La Roche on Nov. 22).
Offensively, Ortiz and Jones both tallied 19 points to lead Hiram's scoring efforts. Additionally, Jones posted his seventh double-double of the season, coming just one rebound shy of his career high with 16 boards.
Other leaders for the Terriers included Rice and Dean, who finished with eight and seven points, respectively. Making his first start of the season, Rice shot 4-of-7 from the field, adding four rebounds and a team-high three blocks.
The Terriers will be back in action on Friday as they take on Washington & Jefferson College in the second day of the "Smokey Ballanger Classic". The matchup is scheduled for a 3 p.m. tip.