By: Andrew Korba
HIRAM, Ohio -- A putback by sophomore Kelvin Jones (Sheffield Lake, Ohio/Brookside) with two seconds left gave the Hiram College men's basketball team a dramatic 74-72 win over No. 4-ranked Ohio Wesleyan on Saturday afternoon.
The Terriers are now 5-2 and 2-1 in the NCAC, while the Battling Bishops, ranked No. 4 in the most recent D3hoops.com poll, drop to 8-1, 2-1.
The win for Hiram was the first against a top-5 team since the 1992-93 season, when the Terriers knocked off top ranked Ohio Northern 70-61.
OWU's Claude Gray drained a 3-pointer with 23 seconds left to tie the score at 72-72.
Hiram elected not to call a timeout and play on. Senior J.J. Woodson (Oakwood Village, Ohio/Bedford) drove into the paint and stumbled, putting up a shot while falling down. Jones was able to grab the rebound off the backboard and converted a layup with 2.2 seconds left to give Hiram the lead.
The Battling Bishops had a long outlet on the ensuing inbound and Gray had a 3-point look to win it, but his shot rimmed out.
Woodson paced Hiram with a career-high 29 points on 11-of-23 shooting, which included 6-of-10 from beyond the arc. He also pulled down seven rebounds.
Jones would finish with five points, but recorded 14 rebounds, which was one off his career-best. Senior Ray Gaston (Warren, Ohio/John F. Kennedy) and junior Jeremiah Thomas (Cleveland, Ohio/John Hay) each had nine points off the bench.
Gray led Ohio Wesleyan with 23 points, all in the second half. Matt Jeske also added 19 points and nine rebounds for OWU.
"I am extremely proud of our guys," said head coach Chris Kibler. "We battled every second of this game and I could not be more happier that we came out on top."
Hiram opened up an early 10-4 lead on back-to-back treys from sophomore Isaiah Matthews (Orlando, Fla./Eastridge) and Woodson.
The Battling Bishops would pull back to within two points at 18-16, before Hiram reeled off seven straight points to open up a 25-16 advantage with 9:12 left in the first half.
The Terriers would open a 30-20 lead on a layup by sophomore Paul Ortiz (Canton, Ohio/McKinley Senior), but OWU countered with nine straight points to trim Hiram's lead to 30-29.
The Terriers held a 38-37 lead a the intermission.
Hiram came out in the second half and scored the first 10 points, capped off by a Woodson 3-pointer, to take a 48-37 lead.
The Battling Bishops would come all the way back and took a 55-54 lead on a Gray layup with 9:32 remaining.
After OWU expanded its lead to 58-54, the Terriers went on a 7-0 run to take a 61-58 lead with 6:28 to play.
The teams would find themselves knotted at 65-65, before a 3-pointer from Gaston gave the Terriers a 68-65 edge.
Ohio Wesleyan would score on its next possession, but Hiram would get a free throw from Jones and a basket from Woodson to open a 71-67 lead with 1:37 left.
The Battling Bishops would respond with two Gray free throws and Woodson would split a pair of free throws to make the score 72-69 with 57 seconds.
Gray would tie the game with 23 seconds left, but Jones' heroics in the closing seconds gave the Terriers the win.
"Ohio Wesleyan is a fun team to watch," added Kibler. "They have so many weapons and are so hard to prepare for."
Hiram finished the game 30-of-70 (42.9 percent) from the field and was 10-of-28 (35.7 percent) in 3-pointers, while OWU was 25-of-78 (32.1 percent) in shooting and 11-of-46 (23.9 percent) from beyond the arc.
The Battling Bishops won the rebounding battle 50-49, but Hiram held a 34-26 edge in points in the paint and a 25-15 advantage in bench points.
Hiram will play next on December 19, as they travel to take on La Roche (Pa.) at 3 p.m.