The Terrier men's basketball team came just shy of a non-conference victory on Wednesday evening, falling 82-80 to La Roche College in Price Gymnasium.
The game was still in the balance with just three minutes remaining in regulation. After the two sides had traded punches like prize fighters throughout the matchup, neither team had a foothold with the scored tied at 69-69.
La Roche made an important 8-0 run in the span of 50 seconds to capture a 77-69 lead with 1:15 to play. The Red Hawks top shooter, Zach Gold, came through with two of his four three-point baskets on the night. The other bucket was made on a fast-break basket from Ray Quan Phifer.
The Terriers would not be deterred, however, making their own run to get back into the game. Spurred on by a raucous crowd in Price Gymnasium, Hiram held La Roche to just three made free throws in the final minute.
Back-to-back threes from Tyler McMillion sliced the La Roche lead from eight points to just three with 41 seconds remaining. Then the Terriers' full-court press forced a Red Hawk turnover which turned into a shooting foul for Marcel Rice. Hiram's lone senior calmly knocked down the pair and the lead was just one (78-77) with 32 tics to play.
After the two sides traded free throws, Hiram had the ball for one last possession, trailing by two. The Terriers got a look from the left wing as Christian Crespo went for the win from deep. The shot hit the backboard before skipping off the rim, ending the game in regulation.
The see-saw battle between the two sides saw 10 ties and nine lead changes throughout the game. Hiram controlled the opening ten minutes, holding a nine-point lead (28-19) with just over nine minutes to go. Crespo paced the Terriers in the early goings, totaling nine points in the run.
It took just seven minutes of game time for La Roche to respond, using a 20-3 run to turn Hiram's nine-point lead (the largest of the game by either side) into a six-point advantage (39-33). The Terriers, in turn, closed the gap to two (42-40) by the half.
With the Red Hawks leading by seven in the early stages of the second, Hiram made their run of the closing half, pushing an 18-3 swing to take a 58-50 lead. The Terriers spread the ball around in the run, getting five points, each, from Sherman Dean III, Crespo and McMillion.
La Roche would outscore the Terriers 19-11 over the next seven minutes, pulling the game to a tie before controlling the two-minute stretch that decided the outcome.
Offensively for Hiram, Crespo and McMillion tied for the team high with 20, each. It marked the second-straight game that McMillion has eclipsed 20 points. He finished 7-of-14 from the field and 4-of-8 from beyond the arc. Crespo, meanwhile, posted 20+ for the third time in eight games to open the year.
Other offensive leaders for Hiram including Dean and Jalen Kirksey. Dean tallied 13 points off the bench, while Kirksey added 10 points and a team-high nine rebounds.
La Roche was led by 21 points from Tyler Frederick and 15 from Gould. The difference in the game came in points off turnovers, as La Roche held a +9 advantage.
Hiram will take to the road for the next three games and will be in action on Saturday afternoon as they travel to Beaver Falls, Pa. to take on Geneva College. The matchup with the Golden Tornadoes is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.