For the Lords basketball team, last night’s game ended any possibility for a North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) tournament bid as they fell to the Hiram College Terriers 98-94. The road to the tournament had looked especially bleak since their loss to the Wittenberg University Tigers this past Saturday; Wittenberg had attacked the paint all night, with six players scoring in the double digits, and won the game handily 95-67.
The Lords had scored first in the game on Saturday, but Wittenberg answered immediately with six straight buckets. The Tigers went on a 21-5 point run led by Matt Balser, who would go on to collect a team-high 19 points. By halftime, the Lords were lagging by 17 points.
Throughout the second half, the Tigers remained in the driver’s seat: Connor Seipel scored an easy layup at the 8:47 mark and extended the Wittenberg lead to 35 points, the largest of the game.
On Wednesday night, the Lords lost a wild overtime game to Hiram featured 18 lead changes, with no team having a lead greater than seven throughout the entire game.
After taking a slim 43-42 lead at halftime, the Lords controlled most of the second half. Hiram only had the lead for one offensive possession until the 1:25 mark of the frame. While the Lords had just given up a seven-point lead in a two minute sequence that included two lazy turnovers at the top of the arc, they did not give up in their pursuit of their first NCAC victory of the season.
Down by four with 30 seconds left, the Lords ran down the court and took advantage of the Hiram team’s protection of the arc with a quick layup by Elijah Davis ’22. After calling a timeout, the Lords set up their full-court pressure defense and, just as Hiram thought they’d found an open man, Davis flew in, jarred the ball loose, collected it and scored to tie the game at 85 with 11 seconds left. The Lords then played solid defense during Hiram’s attempt to win the game, and, with a last-second half-court heave, Matt Shifrin ’19 was inches away from ending the Lords 16-game NCAC losing streak.
With Shifrin’s miss the game went into overtime, where it stayed consistently close. Down by one point with 25 seconds left, Ryan O’Neill ’20 was fouled on a loose ball by the Terriers’ Sherman Cox. Due to the Terriers only committing nine fouls since the start of the second half, O’Neill got to shoot one free throw, and if he made the first he would earn himself a second. O’Neill, a career 67 percent free-throw shooter, missed the front end of the 1-and-1, forcing the Lords to foul Hiram’s Jalen Kirksey. He missed his first free throw as well, but due to the Lords accumulating double-digit fouls he was allowed to shoot another. He made the second, and the Lords called a timeout down by two with 17 seconds remaining.
On the ensuing possession, the Lords found the hot hand in Davis and were able to isolate one defender on him on the right side of the court. Davis beat his defender handily off the dribble, but a crashing Hiram rim defender forced him to go underneath the basket and attempt a reverse layup with two seconds remaining. Davis missed, the Lords fouled the Terriers who made both shots, and the game ended with a final score of 98-94.
The loss officially eliminated the Lords from competing in the NCAC tournament for the second year in a row and also ensured them last place in the conference. The Lords will have three more attempts to end their 17-game conference losing streak, with their next shot coming on Feb. 9 at Wabash College.