Nov. 26 – BEAVER FALLS, Pa. – Despite erasing a 10-point, second-half, deficit, the Hiram College men's basketball team saw their comeback fall just short, dropping a 90-87 decision to Geneva College in non-conference action on Saturday.
The two teams played the score close in the opening 20 minutes with neither side gaining more than a five-point advantage. The host Golden Tornadoes led 12-7 on a jumper by Jimmy Leichliter before a 6-0 run by the Terriers erased that advantage.
The score would knot for the first time at 18-18 and would see eight more ties with the lead changing hands on 10 more occasions. A three-pointer by Ortiz at the 5:57 mark would give the Terriers a two-point lead (32-30) with 5:57 to play, tying the largest lead of the half for Hiram.
Geneva would outscore the Terriers by three throughout the rest of the half, and Hiram would trail by one heading into the break (47-46).
The Golden Tornadoes would take their biggest advantage of the game midway through the second half, running the lead out to 68-58 on a three-point basket by Leichliter with 8:53 remaining.
Hiram was determined to make it a game once more, as the Terriers, utilizing a full-court press, embarked on an 11-2 run to cut the Geneva lead to one (70-69).
Jones opened the run with a layup and was followed by back-to-back fast-break chances from Ryan Greenwood. Greenwood converted the first for a fast-break finish, and earned a trip to the line due to a flagrant foul on his second drive to the hole.
After Greenwood converted both free throw opportunities, the Terriers converted on the extra possession with another lay-in by Jones, cutting the advantage to 68-66.
Following a Geneva basket, Sherman Dean III hit his first triple of the game, inching the Terriers closer, 70-69, with 6:49 to play.
Leading by just one (75-74), Geneva would run the difference back out to seven points, using a layup by Chase Vaudrin and another three-point basket by Leichliter. Geneva's leading scorer sank the triple from the corner to give the Golden Tornadoes an 82-75 lead. He finished the game with 24 points.
Senior guard Kyle Deckerd would lift the Terriers to one final push, knocking down a trio of three-point buckets within the span of two minutes. The final three, from four-feet behind the three-point arc, capped off a 12-5 swing, tying the game at 87-87 with 1:37 to play.
After Geneva answered to re-take the two-point lead with 1:13 left, the Terriers would once again look to respond. A turnover cut the chance short with 4.8 seconds to play, but a foul put the Golden Tornadoes at the line.
Geneva's Ethan Moose converted just one of the two free-throw attempts, leaving the door, once again, open for Hiram.
On the Terriers final possession, Hiram once again failed to get a shot up, with another turnover cutting short the chance, and ending the game, 90-87.
Jones continued his torrid pace throughout the first weeks of the season, posting 28 points and 11 rebounds for his fourth-straight double-double. He finished 10-of-12 from the field, and is now shooting .836 on the season while averaging 27.2 points and 12.2 rebounds per night.
Other scoring leaders for the Terriers included Ortiz's 19 points, as well as nine each from Greenwood, Deckerd and Williams.
Hiram will continue their non-conference schedule on Wednesday, Nov. 30 when they return to Price Gymnasium to play host to the University of Mount Union. The matchup with the Purple Raiders is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start.