HIRAM, Ohio — For a third straight year, Hiram College's Price Gymnasium turned into a house of horrors for the Wittenberg Tigers, resulting in an 87-65 loss in the regular season finale for both teams.
The Tigers entered the week with tremendous momentum, winners of 13 of their last 14 games, including a Feb. 12 victory over fourth-ranked Wooster. Then came road trips to Wabash and Hiram and a pair of stunning defeats, dropping Wittenberg to 17-7 overall and 12-3 in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC). As a result, the Tigers dropped to second place in the NCAC regular season standings and lost the opportunity to host the conference tournament, barring an upset of regular season champion Wooster in the quarterfinals.
Hiram improved to 14-11 overall and 8-8 in the league. The Terriers won their third straight to build significant momentum heading into the NCAC Tournament, which opens Tuesday, Feb. 22.
Hiram scored the game's first nine points and never looked back. Wittenberg closed to within one point on a three-point play by junior Clayton Black (Lancaster, Ohio/Lancaster) at the 10:41 mark of the first half, but the Terriers responded with a 7-0 run. By halftime, the lead had stretched to 11 points, and the second half was all Hiram.
The Tigers were limited to 36 percent shooting from the field, including a paltry 6-of-28 from three-point range. The offensive struggles extended to the free throw line, where the Tigers hit just 58 percent. The most telling team statistic was rebounding, as Hiram piled up 51 boards, including a whopping 21 at the offensive end. Wittenberg pulled down 39 rebounds, including 15 offensive.
Black led Wittenberg individually with 16 points and six rebounds, while juniorJosh McKee (New Carlisle, Ohio/Tecumseh) added 12 points and five boards in 18 minutes off the bench. Freshman Steven Newell (Englewood, Ohio/Northmont)chipped in with nine points.
Hiram, which lost 68-59 at Wittenberg on Jan. 8, was led by Babajide Eniola and Andrew Weigand with 15 points apiece off the bench.
The Tigers will look to turn their season back in the right direction with an NCAC Tournament quarterfinal game against Denison, which lost twice to Wittenberg during the regular season. The two teams will tip off in Pam Evans Smith Arena at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 22.