The Hiram College men’s basketball team got its first win of the season behind senior All-North Coast Athletic Conference guard Aaron Stefanov‘s (Stow/Stow-Munroe Falls) game-high 24 points as the Terriers defeated Allegheny (Pa.) College, 67-61, in the NCAC opener in Meadville, Pa.
The two teams went back-and-fourth throughout the first half with neither team leading by more than four points. Hiram (1-3, 1-0 NCAC) recorded its largest lead of four points on two occasions with the last one coming at the 2:58 minute mark following a pair of free-throws by Stefanov to make the score 25-21. Allegheny (2-4, 0-1 NCAC) ended the half with on an 8-0 scoring run to take the lead with its largest margin of four points with the halftime score, 29-25.
Allegheny scored the first points of the second half to extend its scoring streak and increase the margin to six points, 31-25. But Hiram answered with an 8-2 run of its own to tie the game at 33-33 on a jumper by Stefanov with 16:36 to go. The two teams continued the see-saw battle until the 10:08 mark when a three-pointer by freshman guard Kyle Deckerd (Louisville/Canton South) sparked a 16-4 run giving the Terriers the lead for good and some breathing room with the score of 55-47 with 4:29 left to play. Allegheny pulled to within five points with just over 30 seconds to go, but the earlier Hiram lead and 10 straight made free-throws in the final minute, would be enough as the Terriers went on to claim the 67-61 victory.
Allegheny shot 39.1 percent (25-of-64) from the field and was led in scoring by D’Andre Corbin with 13 points. He also grabbed a team-high seven rebounds. The duo of Josh Valentic and John O’Donnell rounded out the high scorers for the Gators with 12 points each.
Hiram converted 31.2 percent (20-of-64) of its overall shots and was paced by Stefanov’s 24 points on seven-of-20 shooting (35.0 percent) to go along with a perfect eight-of-eight at the free-throw line. Senior guard Matt Roman (North Olmsted) was second with 11 points and senior forward Chris Zurowski (Medina) added 10 points. Roman also grabbed a game-high nine rebounds and Zurowski tallied eight boards.
Hiram will travel to Gambier for a NCAC game against Kenyon College on Saturday, Dec. 7. The game is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.