HIRAM, Ohio – In a battle between two of the top four teams in the North Coast Athletic Conference, the Hiram College men's basketball team dropped a hard-fought, overtime decision to The College of Wooster, 78-70, on Wednesday evening.
Trailing by two points in the final minute of regulation, Hiram knotted the game on a pair of free throws by Terrence Warren. After forcing a shot-clock violation on Wooster's final possession of regulation, Hiram had one final chance at the win. However, Warren's three-point attempt as time expired just missed the mark, and the teams went into OT.
Wooster took the lead three separate times in the early stages of the overtime frame, to which Hiram responded with a counter punch of their own.
Following a jumper by Eric Bulic, a nice back-door pass from Warren to freshman Jalen Kirksey knotted the game at 66.
On the Fighting Scots next possession, Reece Dupler got to the rim for a layup to push the visitors ahead. However, a pair of clutch free throws in a one-and-one situation from Marcel Rice, once again evened things up.
Wooster's Alex Baptiste swung the momentum back in Wooster's favor, only to have Kirksey come up big once again with a put-back score to tie the score at 70-70 with 1:04 remaining.
In the final minute, however, the Scots put together an eight-point run, getting another lay-in by Dupler as well as connection on all six free throws as Hiram came up empty on their offensive possessions and were forced to foul.
Overall in the overtime frame, the Terriers found themselves outscored 14-6 with all 14 of Wooster's points coming in the paint or at the line. Throughout the game, Hiram was unable to bottle up the Scots in the post, as Wooster outscored the Terriers 46-28 in the paint.
Despite the overtime frame, each team made a run during regulation that looked to give them control.
Hiram had the offense clicking in the opening half, never trailing in the opening 20 minutes of the game. Using a 12-4 run early, the Terriers turned a tie game into an eight-point advantage (18-10) at the 14:29 mark.
Marcel Rice was the offensive weapon over the first five minutes of the contest, scoring even of the Terriers' nine points. The was followed by an "old-fashioned" three-point play from Isaiah Matthews and four points from Sherman Dean III.
Hiram would extend the advantage to as many as 10 in the half (36-26) on a pair of free throws by Kirksey. However, a 10-4 Wooster run to close the half would narrow the gap to 40-36 at the break.
Wooster would make their move in the first 10 minutes of the second half, holding the Terriers to just six points as part of a 16-4 run that turned the tide into an eight-point Scot advantage.
Trailing 60-55 with 5:54 remaining, Hiram would put together a 7-0 run to retake the lead with 2:50 left. Warren provided the veteran leadership for the Terriers, scoring all seven points in the run that staked Hiram to a 62-60 advantage.
Wooster responded with a four point run before the Warren free throws and defense from both sides forced the overtime frame.
Overall, the Terriers were led by 14 points and six rebounds from Kirksey. Marcel Rice also provided solid production in his second start of the season, tallying 13 points, seven rebounds and a career-high five blocks.
Dean finished the game with 10 points while Warren and Brevin Dye added nine each. Warren tallied all nine of his points in the final five minutes of regulation.
The difference in the game came inside. Along with their advantage in points in the paint, Wooster also outrebounded the Terriers 55-41, which included 21 offensive boards.
Hiram will get back to work on Saturday, January 27 as they travel to Meadville, Pa. for a bout with Allegheny. The matchup is scheduled for 3 p.m.