GAMBIER, Ohio – Needing a win to secure a first-round NCAA Championship Tournament home game for the second time in three years, the Hiram men's basketball team took care of business against Kenyon College, toppling the Lords, 87-75, on Saturday afternoon.
Hiram finished the year strong, winning three of their last four games, including a victory over #3 Wittenberg, to earn the fourth seed in the conference championship tournament with an overall record of 15-10, and a conference mark of 11-7.
The senior duo combined to shoot 13-of-24 from the field in the win, while Ortiz knocked down four triples. The 16 points marked the most for the senior guard since Dec. 30 when he also dropped 16 in a win over Ithaca College.
Jones tallied his 14th double-double of the season, and his fourth in his last five games, with a 16-point, 14 rebound performance. With the regular season now over, Jones has officially earned the Hiram career record for field goal percentage as the Hiram big man has posted a blistering .622 shooting percentage throughout his tenure as a Terrier.
Hiram came out of the gates quickly in the first four minutes, jumping out to an 11-4 run. Ortiz played a big part in the early momentum, knocking down a pair of threes to stake the Terriers to the early lead.
Kenyon would respond over the next six minutes, eventually taking a three-point lead on a triple by Matt Shifrin. The Lords' guard would finish the day with a game-high 20 points.
Back-to-back threes by Isaiah Matthews and Ortiz would push the Hiram lead to six (25-19). The Terriers would hold Kenyon at that distance throughout the remainder of the half, taking a 38-32 lead into the break.
Ortiz and freshman Jalen Kirksey were both vital to the effort in the opening half. Each finished with nine points on 3-of-5 shooting in the first 20 minutes. Kirksey, meanwhile, also added four rebounds and a pair of steals.
A three-point basket by Terrence Warren with 18:23 to play in regulation would push the lead to double figures for the first time in the game (45-34).
The Lords would not be deterred on their home court, however, cutting the Hiram lead back to just one (47-46) thanks to a 12-2 swing.
Still leading by just six (56-50) with 10 minutes to play, Hiram would put together a run that would seal the deal for the visitors.
Dean started a 14-4 Terrier run with one of his two three-point baskets on the night. That was then followed by a three-point play from Warren. The senior guard tallied nine of his 14 points in the crucial run that gave the Terriers a 70-54 advantage with just over six minutes to play.
Following that run, the Hiram lead would shrink below double figures just once, and the Terriers would go on for the 12-point victory (87-75).
Along with Jones and Ortiz, Warren finished the game with 14. Kirksey added 13 in a starting role, while Dean provided the spark off the bench with 12.
With the victory, Hiram secures a first-round home playoff game in the upcoming NCAC Championship Tournament. The Terriers will take on fifth-seeded Denison at Price Gymnasium on Tuesday, February 20. The game will be scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. start.