Senior guard Jamaal Watkins (South Euclid/Brush) poured in a game-high 26 points as the Hiram College men’s basketball team beat Allegheny (Pa.) College, 83-68, tonight (Wednesday, Feb. 8) in a North Coast Athletic Conference game at Price Gymnasium. [Game Stats]
Following tonight’s game, the Terriers improve to 13-9 overall and 6-7 in the NCAC. The Gators fall to 5-17 overall and 3-10 NCAC.
Hiram looked to make a statement early, outscoring Allegheny, 17-4, in the first 5:58 that was capped by a three-pointer by sophomore guard Aaron Stefanov (Stow/Stow-Munroe Falls) at the 14:02 minute mark. The triple would be one of four Stefanov recorded on the night. Allegheny came right back though with a 10-2 scoring run of its own to pull to within five points, 19-14, with 11:14 left in the half. The Gators got as close as four points, 21-17, but an ensuing 9-0 run by Hiram that ended in a jumper by Stefanov pushed the Terrier lead back to double-figures at 13 points, 30-17, with 6:21 left before halftime. Hiram maintained a sizeable advantage the rest of the period and took a 38-27 lead into the locker rooms.
Near the midway point of the second half, another 9-0 run by Hiram that was capped by a fastbreak dunk by Watkins, gave the Terriers a comfortable 20-point lead, 63-43, with 10:32 left in the game. Allegheny mounted one final charge late in the game and managed to cut the Hiram lead to just eight points, 72-64, with three minutes to go. Following back-to-back buckets by senior guard Andrew Wiegand (Amherst/Firelands) and Watkins, the Gators were forced to foul and sent the Terriers to the free-throw line where Hiram connected on seven-of-nine attempts in the final 1:08 to clinch the 83-68 victory.
Allegheny shot 40.3 percent (25-of-62) from the field, including 13-of-16 (81.3 percent) at the free-throw line. The Gators were led in scoring by the duo of James Ness and Ryan Stanko who both scored 23 points. David DiBernardi was the only other Gator player in double-figures with 10 points. In addition, Clark Tritto grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds.
Hiram shot an impressive 60.8 percent overall from the floor (31-of-51), including an equally impressive 58.3 percent (seven-of-12) from behind the arc. Watkins paced the Terriers with his 26 points on 12-of-17 shooting (70.6 percent). He also grabbed a team-high seven rebounds. Stefanov was second with 22 points and finished four-0f-six (66.7 percent) from three-point range. Junior guard Alan Sheppard rounded out the high scorers with 16 points.
Hiram will host Ohio Wesleyan University on Saturday, Feb. 11 in a NCAC game at Price Gym. The game will be part of a basketball doubleheader with the Terrier women’s team. The women will also take on OWU beginning at 1 p.m., followed by the men at 3 p.m.