By: Andrew Korba
HIRAM, Ohio -- In a battle of two regionally ranked opponents, the Hiram College men's basketball team defeated Wooster 70-69 in a back and forth affair on Wednesday evening.
The Terriers, who pick up their first win over the Fighting Scots since the 1996-97 season, improve to 16-6 and 10-5 in the NCAC, while Wooster stands at 16-6, 12-3.
Wooster appeared to take control of the game with 5:35 left, getting a layup from Milt Davis to build a 61-52 lead.
Hiram would answer with a 13-2 run to take a 65-63 lead with 2:30 left on a layup from senior J.J. Woodson (Oakwood Village, Ohio/Bedford).
Wooster answered right back to tie the game, but two straight baskets from sophomore Paul Ortiz (Canton, Ohio/McKinley Senior) put the Terriers in front 69-65 with 1:28 remaining.
Spencer Williams of Wooster came right back with a layup to make the score 69-67 in favor of Hiram with 1:05 left to play.
The Fighting Scots would stop the Terriers on their next possession, but Hiram forced two Wooster misses and secured a rebound with 15 seconds left.
Senior Austen Rekolt (Salem, Ohio/West Branch) was fouled and converted his first free throw to make the score 70-67 with 12 seconds. Hiram was called for a lane violation on the second freebie, giving the ball back to Wooster.
The Fighting Scots were able to draw a foul and made good on two free throws, cutting Hiram's lead to 70-69 with seven seconds left.
Ortiz was immediately fouled on the ensuing inbounds, but missed the front end of a one-and-one. Wooster grabbed the rebound and Williams drove the lane, but his game winning shot attempt was too strong to give the Terriers the thrilling win.
Ortiz led the Terriers with 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting. Woodson added 14 points and six rebounds.
Senior Ray Gaston (Warren, Ohio/John F. Kennedy) was a force off the bench, finishing with 11 points and a career-high 16 rebounds.
Hiram came out of the gate strong and built up a 12-4 lead, eventually pushing its advantage to 20-10.
The Fighting Scots answered with the next 10 points to tie the score at 20-20 with 6:07 left in the first half.
The teams would be tied five more times before a late trey gave Wooster a 32-29 halftime lead.
Wooster was able to push its lead to 38-31 early in the second half, but Hiram answered with a 15-2 run to jump back in front 46-40 with 13:06 left in the contest.
The Fighting Scots had another answer and reeled off seven straight points to retake the lead 47-46.
Wooster would continue to pull away, building its lead to 61-52 before Hiram's late game run propelled them to the victory.
The Terriers finished 30-of-80 (37.5 percent) from the field, but were just 4-of-10 (40.0 percent) in free throws. The Fighting Scots were 26-of-66 (39.4 percent) in shooting and 15-of-19 (78.9 percent) from the charity stripe.
Hiram won the rebounding battle 52-45, including a 24-16 edge on the offensive glass.
The Terriers will look to extend their three game winning streak on Saturday, as they host Oberlin at 3 p.m.