Junior guard Aaron Stefanov (Stow/Stow-Munroe Falls) scored a game-high 31 points as the Hiram College men’s basketball team defeated non-conference opponent Case in overtime in University Circle.
Both teams played a back-and-forth pace in the first half as neither team led by more than three points. Hiram (5-4 overall) recorded its largest lead of the period, 30-27, with 3:27 left in the half following a jumper by senior forward Justin Lonis (Mentor/Perrysburg). Case (5-4 overall) led by three points on several occasions and would take a slim 36-34 advantage into the locker rooms thanks to a jumper just before time expired.
Case led for the majority of the second half, including leading by as many as 13 points, 69-56, with 4:02 left in the game. The Terriers then outscored the Spartans, 19-6, to end the game, including a three-pointer by Stefanov with a second remaining in regulation to even the score at 75-75 to send the game into overtime.
Hiram scored 15 points in the overtime period with nine of those points being scored by Stefanov. The Terriers began the overtime scoring the first four points thanks to a free-throw by senior forward Steve Zivoder(Garrettsville/Garfield) and a triple by Stefanov to jump out to a 79-75 lead. Hiram began to pull away and led by as many as seven points, 84-77, with 2:26 left. Case made one final run and pulled to within a basket, 88-86, with eight seconds to go. Stefanov then connected on two crucial free-throws in the final seconds to put Hiram up by four points, 90-86. The Spartans final point of the game came on a free-throw, but could not net the equalizer, resulting in the 90-87 Hiram victory.
Case shot 43.9 percent (29-of-66) from the field and was led in scoring by Dane McLoughlin with 22 points on seven-of-11 shooting (63.6 percent). Austin Fowler was second with 16 points and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds. David Thompson and Julien Person rounded out the high scorers with 12 points each.
Hiram shot 41.4 percent (29-of-70) from the field and was led by Stefanov’s 31 points on nine-of-19 shooting (47.4 percent). He also made four of the team’s six triples (four-of-eight overall) and was nine-of-10 (90.0 percent) at the free-throw line. Four other Terriers scored in double-figures with senior guards Alan Sheppard (Wadsworth) and Justin Wisniewski (Macedonia/Nordonia) each scoring 13 points. Lonis finished the game with a career-high 12 points and sophomore guard Josh Edmondson (Euclid/Twinsburg) added 11 points with eight of his points coming at the charity stripe. In addition, Zivoder grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds and Wisniewski tallied a game-high seven assists to go along with his 13 points.
Hiram will next be in action on Friday, Dec. 28 against Hendrix (Ark.) College as part of the D3hoops.com Classic in Las Vegas, Nev. Tip-off is scheduled for 9 p.m. eastern time.