The Hiram College men's basketball team found themselves in a wild contest on Wednesday evening, escaping Kenyon College, 98-94 in overtime, in Gambier.
Fittingly, the largest lead of the game for either side was just seven as the Lords and Terriers played to 19 ties and 18 lead changes throughout the 45 minutes of action.
The two sides played back-and-forth through the first six minutes, with Kenyon taking a 12-10 lead on a basket by Ugnius Zilinskas.
Hiram would take the lead back on a quick 5-0 run, including a basket by Antonio McQueen which gave the Terriers a 15-12 advantage with 12:14 to play.
From there, the Terriers attempted to put some distance between themselves and the Lords, but Kenyon was able to answer each Hiram run.
Hiram pushed out to their first five-point lead of the night on a three-point basket by Christian Crespo and a fast-break layup by Jalen Kirksey (32-27). Following a basket by Elijah Davis, Marcel Rice responded with a layup of his own to get the advantage to 34-29 with 5:50 to play.
After Kenyon had taken the lead back late in the half, Hiram once again responded, getting back-to-back triples from Tyler McMillion and Sherman Dean III to get the lead back out to five (42-37) with 1:41 to play.
The Lords would finish the half strong, using a 6-0 swing to end the half and take a 43-42 lead at the break.
Despite holding the advantage in nearly every statistical category in the half, the Terriers found themselves down a point as Kenyon held a two-point advantage on the free-throw line.
Dean paced the Terriers in the opening half, knocking down 3-of-5 from long distance and scoring 11 points in 18 minutes of action.
In the second stanza, it was the Terriers turn to play catchup through the majority of the half as Hiram had to fight off 11 different Kenyon advantages.
The biggest lead for the Lords came with five minutes remaining in regulation following a Rice basket that tied the game for the 13th time at 74-74.
Kenyon put together a seven-point run, including a four-point play by Carter Powell. Following a missed shot by the Terriers, Zilinskas knocked down three of his game-high 31 to push the Lord's advantage to 81-74 with 4:27 to go.
Hiram would refuse to go away as the Terriers would mount an 11-0 run led by six points from Kirksey. The sophomore knocked down the first jumper of the run, which was then followed by free throws from Sherman Cox and Brodgie Gordon.
Kirksey would then tie the game with a breakaway steal and dunk to knot the action 81-81. After a pair of free-throws from Rice, Dean came away with a steal that led to two more from the charity stripe by Kirksey, giving Hiram an 85-81 advantage with 30 seconds to play.
The game would find its way into the overtime frame, however, as Kenyon snagged the final two buckets of regulation, including the final two on a steal and score by Davis with 11 seconds remaining.
Kenyon attempted to control the opening minute of overtime, but Marcel Rice would respond each time. Following a pair of free throws, Rice knocked down a pair of his own to tie the game for the 16th time.
The Lords then retook the lead on a jumper from Carter Powell, before Rice made his way into the paint for his final bucket of the night, tying the game again at 89-89.
Hiram would take the final advantage of the night on a layup by Kirksey with 1:50 to play. The Lords then went 1-for-2 at the free-throw line on their ensuing possession before Kirksey knocked down one of his own to give the Terriers a 96-94 lead.
Kenyon would have one final possession with 17 seconds to play. A layup attempt by Elijah Davis missed the mark and the Terriers grabbed the rebound with two seconds remaining. Gordon then put the game on ice for Hiram, knocking down a pair of free-throws to seal the four-point win.
Rice controlled the second half and overtime for the Terriers, hitting eight of his 10 shots from the field and totaling 22 of his career-high 28 points in the final 25 minutes. Kirksey, meanwhile, added a double-double, posting 22 points, while adding 15 boards, four steals and four assists.
Other offensive leaders for Hiram included 16 from Dean and 14 by Gordon. McMillion also added nine points and five boards to lead the reserves.
The win for the Terriers helped Hiram stay in the hunt for the fourth seed in the NCAC Championship Tournament. They remain one game behind DePauw (who snagged a 94-79 victory over Wabash), and knotted at 8-7 with Oberlin College (who bested Allegheny, 95-94, in triple overtime).
Hiram will face another big NCAC test on Saturday afternoon as they hit the road for the final time during the regular season to tangle with the Yeomen in Oberlin. The matchup between the two teams tied in the standings is set for 3 p.m.