HIRAM, Ohio-- For the third-straight season, Denison has advanced to the final four of the North Coast Athletic Conference men's basketball tournament after a 73-60 win over Hiram College on Tuesday at Price Gymnasium. With the win, Denison advances to the semifinal round where they will face top-seeded Wittenberg on Friday (Feb. 23) at 5:30 p.m. in Springfield, Ohio. In the other semifinal, No. 2 Wooster will play No. 3 Ohio Wesleyan at 7:30 p.m. at Pam Evans Arena.
Denison led most of the way but the Terriers pulled to within three points with six minutes left in the game. Six days ago, Denison's Garrett Collier scored a career-high 27 points helping Denison to an 18-point win over the Terriers. He was locked in once again.
Collier scored 23 points to along with nine rebounds and four assists in 31 minutes. Leading by three with under five minutes to play, Matt Doyle's 3-pointer was off the mark but Fred Brou tipped an offensive board out to Collier who drilled a triple from the top of the key.
Hiram came right back with a 3-pointer by Dean Sherman to keep it a three-point game.
Denison slowed things down at their end and found Doyle who cashed a turnaround jumper to go up five. On Hiram's next possession, Terrance Warren slipped through the defense but was met near the rim by Johnny Vernasco who blocked his shot. Vernasco snagged the rebound and got the ball to Collier who was fouled in transition. Collier made both free throws and Denison held a 65-58 lead with 3:31 to play.
After a Hiram timeout, the Denison defense led to another turnover as Vernasco pressured Terrence Warren tight on the perimeter. Collier sank two more free throws to go up nine with 2:48 to go. Another Hiram miss allowed Denison to take over possession. On the inbounds pass, Collier found Maxwell Siwik on a nifty cut to give DU a double-digit lead. Another turnover by the Terriers followed by two free throws by Siwik gave Denison a 13 point lead with 1:32 left.
Denison ended the game on a 12-2 run over the last 4:35 of the game to run away with the win.
The victory moves the Big Red to 3-0 on the season against Hiram. This is the same Hiram team that defeated Wittenberg (by 24) and Ohio Wesleyan, twice.
Following Collier's 23-point effort was Brou with 11 points and Siwik with 10. After tying the Denison single-game record with 17 3-pointers last Saturday, the Big Red went only 7-for-19 from downtown against the Terriers.
DU held a 38-32 advantage on the boards and was 18-of-25 from the free throw line.
Hiram was led by Warren's 16 points. Kelvin Jones scored 10 points and led all players with 13 rebounds.
Denison improves to 15-11 while Hiram's season comes to an end with a 15-11 record.