WOOSTER, OHIO -- The Hiram College men's basketball team fell short of No. 8 nationally-ranked The College of Wooster, 68-63, in a North Coast Athletic Conference game that went down to the wire at Timken Gymnasium in Wooster.
Hiram (10-8, 4-5 NCAC) trailed by as many as 10 points in the second half, but would battle back to within three points, 66-63, late in the period and would have three chances to even the score with 29 seconds left, but could not net the game-tying triple. Wooster (16-2, 9-0 NCAC) sealed the game with a pair of free-throws in the end to win.
The Fighting Scots opened the first half with a mini 5-1 scoring run to take the early lead. The Terriers later took the lead nearing the midway point of the period with a 5-0 run of their own with all five points scored by senior guard Alan Sheppard (Wadsworth) on a three-pointer and two-point bucket making the score 12-11 at the 12:02 mark. The two teams traded leads the rest of the way with neither team leading by more than four points. The period would end with the score tied at 26-26.
In the second half, Hiram grabbed the early lead, but an ensuing 12-3 run by Wooster gave control back to the Scots and a more comfortable seven-point advantage, 38-31, with 14:53 left in the game. Wooster went on to lead by as many as 10 points late in the period, 65-55, following two free-throws with 1:22 to go. A triple and two free-throws by junior guard Aaron Stefanov (Stow/Stow-Munore Falls) cut the deficit in half, 65-60, putting the Terriers within striking distance with under a minute to go. The Scots increased the lead to six points with a free-throw of their own, but another free-throw by Stefanov and two more by senior guard Justin Wizniewski (Macedonia/Nordonia), made it a 66-63 ball game with 33 seconds on the clock. Hiram was forced to foul and Wooster missed both free-throw attempts giving possession to Hiram trailing by three. A three-point try by sophomore guard Josh Edmondson (Euclid/Twinsburg) and two attempts by Stefanov all in the same Hiram possession would fail to hit its mark in the final seconds. Wooster coraled the rebound on the final missed shot and secured the victory with two free-throws en route to the 68-63 final.
Wooster shot 46.6 percent (27-of-58) for the game and was led in scoring by Jake Mays with 13 points on six-of-10 shooting (60.0 percent). Doug Thorpe, Xavier Brown and Kenny DeBoer rounded out the high scorers with 10 points each.
Hiram finished the game shooting 33.8 percent (22-of-65) from the floor and had two players score in double-digits. Sheppard led the way with a game-high 22 points while shooting eight-of-19 (42.1 percent) and four-of-10 (40.0 percent) from three-point range. Stefanov was the other Terrier in double-figures with 16 points. In addition, senior forward Steve Zivoder (Garrettsville/Garfield) had a game-high 12 rebounds.
Hiram will travel to Gambier for a NCAC game against Kenyon College on Wednesday, Jan. 30. The game is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.