A career-best performance from Sophomore Amanda Holzman, as well as a dominant second-half effort, helped the Hiram women's basketball team secure an 87-69 victory over Allegheny College on Wednesday evening.
The victory put the wraps on the regular season for the Terriers, who finish the year with four wins in the North Coast Athletic Conference, locking up the seventh seed in the upcoming North Coast Athletic Conference Championship Tournament.
The two sides played close through the entirety of the opening half, with the Terriers holding a one-point advantage at the break, 42-21.
In the opening quarter, Holzman came out extremely strong, totaling 11 points, four rebounds and three assists. The Terriers sophomore scored or assisted on 17 of Hiram's 21 first-quarter points. All three of her assists went to fellow sophomore Madison Branch, who totaled eight in the frame. The remaining bucket came from Erica Johnson, who also totaled three assists in the quarter.
Despite shooting 55% from the field in the frame, the Terriers early seven-point lead was quickly evaporated and the teams ended the frame knotted at 21-21.
The second quarter remained close with neither side holding more than a five point advantage. The Gators once again weathered an early scoring output from the Terriers to take a four-point lead with 3:40 to play in the half.
Trailing by three, Hiram would tally the final four points of the half thanks to free throws by Holzman and Branch. The sophomore duo combined for 26 points in the first half as Holzman tallied 16 and Branch, 10.
The second half would prove to be the difference as the Terrier offense continued their onslaught, while holding the Allegheny shooters down in the final two frames.
Hiram never trailed in the third, pushing their lead out to seven on an offensive rebound and putback from freshman Gabriella Dukarm. Fellow Freshman Josie Earnhardt would then increase the advantage to eight (61-53) with a three-point bucket with 3:29 to play.
Following a few points by the Gators, Johnson would increase the lead to its biggest of the quarter with a jumper off an assist from Earnhardt with 14 seconds to go (65-56). However, the Gators' Delaney Arbore finished the frame with a buzzer-beating three and the Terriers took a six-point lead into the fourth.
The Terrier defense locked down the Gators in the final frame, outscoring Allegheny 22-10 in the last ten minutes, which included holding their guests to just six points in the first nine.
With Hiram leading by eight (71-63) with 8:04 to play, the Terriers would embark on a 14-0 run that would put the clamps on the victory. Tashauna Wright began the run with her third bucket of the quarter. That was followed by a jumper by Johnson and a layup by Holzman.
Johnson's final career bucket in Price Gymnasium came as a three-point play off an offensive rebound and put back. She sank the free throw before exiting the game to a standing ovation. The bucket gave the Terriers an 85-63 lead.
It was fitting that Johnson's final basket came off a rebound. The carom gave the Terrier's lone senior 738 on the season, which puts her fourth on Hiram's career rebound list.
Hiram would allow just two more made baskets by the Gators toward the end of regulation and the Terriers would walk away with the 18-point win.
Holzman posted her best game as a Terrier, snagging her first-career double-double as she finished with a career-high 25 points while adding 10 boards.
All five starters finished in double digits with Alainna Conroy totaling 14 on 6-of-11 shooting. Branch and Johnson each added 13, while Wright finished with 12. Johnson also added a double-double in her final home game, snagging 13 rebounds and leading the team with five assists.
The NCAC postseason will begin for the Terriers on Tuesday evening. The current opponent and location have yet to be determined.