CRAWFORDSVILLE, IND. -- The Hiram College men's basketball team recorded its first conference win of the season with a 69-61 victory against Wabash (Ind.) College in North Coast Athletic Conference action in Crawfordsville, Ind.
Hiram (7-5, 1-2 NCAC) took the early lead with back-to-back layups to begin the game, but Wabash (3-9, 1-2 NCAC) then scored five unanswered points to take a slim 5-4 advantage at the 17:11 minute mark. The Little Giants had a 20-14 advantage with 10:56 left in the opening half. Both team offenses would then stall until the 9:15 mark when Hiram junior guard Aaron Stefanov (Stow/Stow-Munroe Falls) connected on a jumper that sparked a 10-0 scoring run over the next 4:12 to give the Terriers a four-point margin 24-20 with 5:02 left in period. Hiram maintained its lead the rest of the half and took a 33-26 advantage into the locker rooms.
Hiram opened the second half on a 13-0 run that ended in a layup by Stefanov to give the Terriers a commanding 46-26 lead with 15:16 to go. The 20-point lead was the largest for Hiram and equalled that mark at the 7:48 mark following a pair of free-throws by senior guard Alan Sheppard (Wadsworth) making the score 56-36. The offensive flood gates then opened for Wabash as the Little Giants went on an ensuing 17-3 run to pull to within five points, 58-53, with 1:52 left on the clock. Wabash then fouled Hiram to put the Terriers at the free-throw line in hopes of capitalizing on any missed attempts. But six free-throws by the Terriers and a layup by senior forward Steve Zivoder (Garrettsville/Garfield) quickly extended the lead back to double-figures, 66-55, with 33 seconds remaining. Wabash made two three-pointers in the final seconds, but three more free-throws by Hiram down the stretch sealed the 69-61 victory.
Wabash shot 32.8 percent (22-of-67) from the field for the game, including taking 27 three-point attempts (10-of-27). The Little Giants were led in scoring by Ross Sponsler with a game-high 29 points on 10-of-21 shooting (47.6 percent), including making six triples. Daniel Purvlicis rounded out the high scorers with 10 points.
Hiram shot 46.6 percent (27-of-58), including 81.2 percent (13-of-16) at the free-throw line. The Terriers had three players score in double-figures led by junior forward Chris Zurowski (Medina) with 16 points on seven-of-13 shooting (53.8 percent) to go along with a game-high 10 rebounds. Stefanov was second in scoring with 15 points and Sheppard added 13 points.
Hiram will return to the court tomorrow (Saturday, Jan. 5) when it travels to Greencastle, Ind. for a NCAC matchup against DePauw (Ind.) University. The game will be part of a basketball doubleheader with the Terrier women's basketball team. The women will start the day off against the Tigers at 1 p.m., followed by the men at 3 p.m.