Senior All-North Coast Athletic Conference guard Aaron Stefanov(Stow/Stow-Munroe Falls) scored a career-high 43 points and became the school’s all-time leader in three-pointers made as well as becoming the 24th player in school history to score 1,000 career points, but the Hiram College men’s basketball team fell on the losing end of a 79-78 decision against La Roche (Pa.) College in the season opener in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Hiram (0-1) would boast a 12-point lead at halftime and began the game on a 7-0 scoring run. La Roche (1-0) got to within two points, 23-21, late in the period with 5:12 remaining, but a three-pointer by senior Josh Edmondson (Euclid/Twinsburg) sparked a 10-0 run to put Hiram up by 12 points, 33-21, with 3:18 left before the break. The Terriers led by as many as 15 points in the half, 37-22, thanks to a layup by senior guard Matt Roman (North Olmsted) at the 2:03 minute mark. The Redhawks outscored the Terriers, 8-5, in the final minutes to make the score 42-30 at the intermission.
In the second half, La Roche narrowed the gap and made it a one-possession game with 12:30 left to play with a score of 53-51. The Redhawks eventually tied the game at 56-56, but a 13-6 run by Hiram that ended with one of Stefanov’s six triples on the night, gave the Terriers a seven-point advantage, 69-62, with 6:10 to go. La Roche battled back to tie the game again and took its first lead of the game with 3:14 to play with a score of 73-71 following a pair of free-throws. Hiram evened the score at 78-78 with 28 seconds to go on a pair of free-throws by Stefanov, but a late Terrier foul with three seconds left gave the Redhawks a chance to pull ahead on the scoreboard. La Roche connected on one-of-two attempts and Hiram’s final shot missed its mark as the Redhawks posted the 79-78 come-from-behind victory.
La Roche shot 47.5 percent (28-of-59) overall from the field and was led in scoring by Lionel Perkins with 19 points. Daron Tabron and David Jackson both scored 17 points and Jackson added a game-high 11 rebounds to complete the double-double. Neal McKown rounded out the double-figure scores for the Redhawks with 12 points.
Hiram also shot 47.5 percent (28-of-59) for the game and was led by Stefanov’s 43 points on 15-of-22 shooting (68.2 percent), including six-of-10 (60.0 percent) from three-point range and a perfect seven-of-seven at the free-throw line. Roman was second in scoring with 14 points and Edmondson added 13 points to go along with a team-high nine rebounds.
Stefanov has now scored 1,014 career points to become the 23rd all-time leader scorer in program history. He has also connected on 191 career triples which puts him ahead of Matt Kersten ’03 for the all-time lead (190).
Hiram will take on Penn State-Beaver (Pa.) tomorrow (Saturday, Nov. 16) in a non-conference and final game of the TGI Friday’s Tip-Off Tournament hosted by La Roche. The game is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. in Pittsburgh, Pa.