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Men's Basketball advances to NCAC Tournament Semifinals with 95-87 victory over Kenyon

Men's Basketball advances to NCAC Tournament Semifinals with 95-87 victory over Kenyon

By: Andrew Korba

HIRAM, Ohio -- The Hiram College men's basketball team erased a seven-point deficit in the final 5:58 to top Kenyon 95-87 in the NCAC Tournament Quarterfinals on Tuesday evening.

Hiram (19-7) will now play second seed Wooster in the NCAC Tournament Semifinals on Friday at 5:30 p.m. at Ohio Wesleyan. The Terriers and Fighting Scots split their two regular season meetings this year, with each team winning on their home court.

A 3-pointer by Kenyon's (11-15) Matt Shifrin with 5:58 left to play allowed Kenyon to open a 80-73 advantage.

Hiram answered with a 13-0 run, draining four 3-pointers in a 3:06 span, to jump in front 86-80 with 2:53 left to play.

Kenyon would answer with two free throws, before the Terriers answered with another trey from senior Ray Gaston (Warren, Ohio/John F. Kennedy), pushing their lead to 89-82 with 2:34 left to play.

Hiram would hold the lead and two free throws from sophomore Kelvin Jones (Sheffield Lake, Ohio/Brookside) with 53 seconds left gave the Terriers a 92-84 edge.

Shifrin would pull the Lords to within 92-87 with 44 second remaining on a 3-pointer. Kenyon was able to get no closer as Hiram converted three free throws in the final 23 second to put the game away.

Jones led Hiram with another monster game, finishing with 21 points and tying his career-high with 17 rebounds, nine of which were offensive. He went 5-of-8 from the field and converted 11-of-14 free throws.

Sophomore Paul Ortiz (Canton, Ohio/McKinley Senior) added 20 points and a career-high seven rebounds. Senior J.J. Woodson (Oakwood Village, Ohio/Bedford) chipped in with 17 points and senior Austen Rekolt (Salem, Ohio/West Branch) and Gaston each had 10 points.

Tim Connolly led the Lords with 26 points, while Brien Comey had 16 rebounds.

The Terriers showed no signs of postseason jitters, coming out strong and building a 25-8 lead just seven minutes into the contest.

Kenyon would respond with a 15-0 run midway through the first half to trim Hiram's lead to just one point, 30-29, with 7:02 left in the first half.

The Terriers were able to build a 49-42 halftime lead.

Kenyon would open the second half on a 15-2 run, taking a 57-51 advantage with 15:54 left to play.

Hiram would trim Kenyon's lead to one point four different times over the next 10 minutes, before the Lords were able to expand their lead to 80-73.

From there, it was all Hiram down the stretch, as the Terriers closed the game on a 22-7 run for the win.

Hiram finished the game 32-of-81 (39.5 percent) from the field and 12-of-32 (37.5 percent) in 3-pointers. Kenyon was 30-of-74 (40.5 percent) in shooting and converted 50.0 percent (13-of-26) 3-pointers.

The Terriers dominated the rebounding battle, holding a 59-42 edge, including a 28-14 advantage on the offensive glass.

The win is the first for Hiram in the NCAC Tournament. The Terriers had dropped their first seven contests in the tournament before Tuesday's win.