HIRAM, Ohio – The 2017-18 season came to an end for the Hiram College men's basketball team on Tuesday evening as the Terriers fell 73-60 to Denison University in the quarterfinal round of the North Coast Athletic Conference Championship Tournament.
The game opened as a defensive struggle, with the two teams combining for just 24 points through the first 10 minutes.
Six different Terriers scored to open the game, as Hiram held a two-point advantage (13-11) on a three pointer by senior Paul Ortiz with 10:49 remaining.
The score by the Hiram senior would prove to be the last time that Hiram led throughout the entirety of the contest.
In the span of the next six minutes, the Big Red put together an 18-2 run to race ahead by 16 (31-15), the largest lead of the evening.
Denison tallied seven of their points from the charity stripe in the run. The free-throw line would prove to be a difference maker as the Big Red held a +14 advantage at the stripe (18-4).
In the final three minutes of the half, Hiram would lock down and inch closer with an 8-0 run to end the frame. Sophomore Sherman Dean III sparked the Hiram run with a pair of key defensive plays.
Dean first blocked a three-point attempt by Calude Chandonnet. He then saved the ball from going out of bounds by throwing it up court to a fast-breaking Terrence Warren for two.
Dean then blocked another three-point attempt on Denison's next possession, leading to a basket by Kelvin Jones on the opposite end. Warren then ended the half with a layup, cutting the Big Red lead to 31-23 at the break.
In the second half, Hiram would continue to chip away, eventually pulling even with the Big Red on a steal and fast-break bucket by Warren. The senior guard led all Hiram scorers with 16 points.
Despite the Terriers putting pressure on the visiting team, Denison had the answer nearly every time. With just over 10 minutes to play, the Big Red tallied points on seven-consecutive possessions, keeping the Terriers just out of reach and pushing the lead to five (58-53) with 5:48 to play.
Dean would shrink the Denison lead for the final time with 4:35 remaining in regulation, as his first triple of the night pull Hiram within one possession, 61-58.
From there, however, Hiram would manage just two more points, as Denison ended the game on a 12-2 run, rounding out the scoring at 73-60.
Along with Warren's team-high 16, Jones finished the game with a double-double, securing 13 rebounds to go along with 10 points. Ortiz finished with eight, while Isaiah Matthews and Kirksey added six, each.
Hiram finishes the season 15-11, marking the second winning season in four years under head coach Chris Kibler. Denison, meanwhile, moves on to take on top-seeded Wittenberg in the NCAC semifinals on Friday evening.