Feb. 20 – HIRAM, Ohio – The Hiram College men's basketball team will begin its quest for a first North Coast Athletic Conference Championship on Tuesday evening as the Terriers travel to #4 Wittenberg for a 7:30 p.m. tip.
The Terriers enter the postseason having earned the fifth spot in the conference thanks to a tiebreaker over DePauw. Hiram finished the regular season with a mark of 11-14, including an 8-10 record in conference play.
Hiram and Wittenberg split the season series, with each team capturing a victory on their home court. The Terriers snuck out a 60-58 win on January 7 thanks to a buzzer-beating layup by Jeremiah Thomas, while the Tigers earned a 76-68 victory in Springfield on Feb. 11.
Throughout the regular season, the Terriers hung their hat on the offensive side of the ball, ranking in the top half of the conference in both points per game (74.6) and field-goal percentage (.442). Hiram also made the most of their trips to the charity stripe, shooting nearly 75% from the line on the year.
Jonesing For a Victory
This season, junior Kelvin Jones has led the way for Hiram, ranking fifth in the conference in points per game (17.3) while averaging a league-best 11.1 rebounds per night. Jones was a symbol of efficiency from the floor, ranking first in all of Division III in field-goal percentage, shooting .690 on the year.
Throughout the course of the year, Jones has totaled 14 double-doubles, posting double-digit scoring 20 times, and adding double-digit rebounds on 16 occasions.
Despite his successes during the regular season, Jones will look for more touches against the Tigers, as he managed just 10 shots from the floor during two games against Wittenberg this season.
Thomas has made a solid impact for the Terriers since being moved to the starting lineup on January 21. He has ranked second on the team in scoring since being inserted, averaging 10.3 points per game.
Thomas has performed well in the team's two games against Wittenberg this season, averaging 15.5 points per game while shooting .611 from the field. He is also a blistering .667 from beyond the three point arc.
The senior lifted the Terriers to their win over Wittenberg back on January 7, scoring the game-winning layup as time expired. That play was then featured as a nominee for the "Geico Play of the Year".
In two games against the Tigers this season, the Terriers have averaged 14.0 turnovers per game and are -4.0 in turnover margin. In order to pick up the win, they will have to limit the amount of extra possessions they allow via the turnover.
Wittenberg comes into the game ranked second in opponents' turnovers per night (14.4) and third in steals (7.6). Hiram, meanwhile, ranks ninth in the conference in turnovers per game (14.2).
In Hiram's win earlier in the year, the Terriers committed just 10 turnovers, as opposed to 18 miscues in the team's loss in Springfield.
Following a three-year drought between the seasons of 2012-13 and 2014-15, head coach Chris Kibler has the Terriers back in the NCAC Tournament for the second-consecutive year. Hiram is making their 11th appearance all time and posted their first NCAC Tournament victory with a 93-87 win over #6 Kenyon last season.