The Hiram College men’s basketball team fell short of upsetting No. 9 nationally-ranked The College of Wooster, 76-71, in a North Coast Athletic Conference game at Price Gymnasium.
Following a three-pointer by senior guard Aaron Stefanov (Stow/Stow-Munroe Falls) to even the score at 5-5 at the 17:08 minute mark of the first half, Wooster (19-3, 13-2 NCAC) went on a 15-3 scoring run to take a 12-point advantage, 20-8, with 14:21 remaining in the period. The Fighting Scots went on to lead by as many 13 points before a 10-0 run by Hiram (5-17, 3-12 NCAC) that ended in a another triple by Stefanov cut the deficit to a point, 23-22, with 7:41 to go before the intermission. Wooster would not relinquish the lead and would grow the margin to a more comfortable eight points on two occasions in the final minutes, including a halftime score of 41-33.
Hiram began the second half with three straight three-pointers by freshman guard Kyle Deckerd (Louisville/Canton South) to cut the deficit back to a point, 43-42, at the 18:08 mark. Hiram later took the lead as part of a 6-0 run to make the score, 50-49, with 14:03 to play. The two teams swapped leads, but the Scots would later build a lead of five points, 65-60, with just under five-and-a-half minutes to go. Hiram rallied with back-to-back three pointers by Stefanov and senior forward Chris Zurowski (Medina) to regain the lead, 68-67. Wooster mounted a rally of its own scoring seven unanswered points to go up by six, 74-68, with 42 seconds left in regulation. Hiram got to within three points in the final seconds, but that would be as close as the Terriers would get as two free-throws by the Scots down the stretch sealed the 76-71 victory.
Wooster shot 45.6 percent for the game and was led in scoring by Xavier Brown with a game-high 28 points. Doug Thorpe was second with 17 points and Scott Purcell added 11 points.
Hiram shot 47.1 percent from the floor, but the difference came at the free-throw line as the Terriers converted just 66.7 percent of its attempts (14-of-21) as Wooster shot 87.5 percent (14-of-16) at the charity stripe. Hiram was led in scoring by Stefanov with 27 points on six-of-10 shooting (60.0 percent), including 11-of-15 (73.3 percent) at the free-throw line and had four buckets from long range. Zurowski was second with a career-high 20 points to go along with a game-high 10 rebounds for a double-double. Decikerd rounded out the high scorers with 11 points.
Hiram will host Oberlin College on Saturday, Feb. 15 in a NCAC matchup at Price Gym. The game is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.