Nov. 30 – HIRAM, Ohio – The Hiram College men's basketball team dropped an 89-77 decision to visiting Mount Union on Wednesday evening in Price Gymnasium.
The Purple Raiders (4-1) were spearheaded by a career day from junior JJ Kukura, who poured in a career-high 40 points on 12-of-22 shooting.
Despite the outcome, the first half was a back-and-forth affair with the lead changing hands five times.
Mount Union opened the game on a 6-0 run, before a 10-3 Hiram counter put the host Terriers (1-4) up by a point with less than four minutes gone in the frame. Junior Paul Ortiz put up six of Hiram's 10 points in the run, before Ryan Greenwood gave the hosts their first lead of the game.
The matchup saw its first tie of the half with 14:19 to play in the frame (15-15), as Joe Caspio connected on his first bucket of the night.
Tied at 19-19, the Terriers would use an 11-4 swing to take their biggest lead of the game (30-23) with 5:09 to play. Kelvin Jones scored five points in the run, including a three-point play, while senior Jeremiah Thomas capped off the run. Thomas finished the game with a season-high 11 points.
Mount Union would respond to the run with another of their own, using an 11-2 run to retake a two-point lead (34-32) on free-throws by Kukura. The junior amassed 10 points in the run, posting a pair of triples in the swing. The Raiders would go into the half holding a slim, one-point advantage, 37-36.
The first ten minutes of the second half proved to be the difference, as Mount Union ran off a 30-12 run to blow the game open to a 19-point lead (67-48). The game would never get back below double-digits, and the Terriers dropped the 12-point decision, 89-77.
Three players did a majority of the damage for Mount Union in the second half as Kukura, DeAllen Jackson and Tommy Stenger combined for 43 of the 52 points.
The Terriers, who came into the game as the third-best shooting team in all of Division III, shot well in the second half, connecting on 50% of their attempts from the field. Kyle Deckerd and Thomas each scored nine in the half, while Jones posted 10 in the closing 20 minutes.
For the game, four Terriers finished in double figures, led by a 19-point, 13-rebound performance from Jones. The numbers marked his fifth double-double of the season.
Other leading scorers included 12 points for Paul Ortiz, as well as Deckerd and Thomas who each added 11.
Hiram will return to action on Wednesday, December 7, when they open North Coast Athletic Conference action against the College of Wooster. The matchup is scheduled to follow the women's game, which is set for 6 PM.