HIRAM — The College of Wooster did all it could on the final possession.
But the Fighting Scots couldn't stop Hiram College wing Kevin Beans Jr., who stepped inside the 3-point arc, spun and sank the game-winning 20-foot jumper at the buzzer to lift the Terriers to an 83-81 win in North Coast Athletic Conference men’s basketball action Friday night at Price Gymnasium.
It was redemption for Beans, who had a chance to make it a two-possession game with 36.3 seconds remaining. The 79-percent free-throw shooter missed two to give Wooster (13-5, 9-2) a chance to tie or take the lead.
The Scots elected for the tie, with senior Najee Hardaway driving to the hoop, stopping, getting Hiram to bite on the pump fake, and then laying in a field goal that made it 81-all with about 25 seconds to play.
Chance Wells hits the Terriers’ 13th 3-pointer of the game with 1:25 remaining, then came up with a steal to set up a transition layup by Brodgie Gordon to put Hiram (7-10, 4-7) up 81-79 with just under a minute to play.
Earlier in the second half, Wooster built a 10-point lead and was in control near the stanza’s midpoint. Freshman Jamir Billings book-ended an 8-0 run with 3-pointers, the second of which put the Scots up 69-59. In between, Scots sophomore forward Elijah Meredith poked the ball away from Sherman Cox and worked a give-and-go with Billings before making a transition layup.
Then, Billings knocked the ball loose from Beans and put it in a spot where sophomore Carter Warstler would be first to it.
Billings’ quick hands were on display all night, and at one point he had four deflections that led to Hiram turnovers in a span of 98 seconds.
First, Warstler deflected the ball away from a Hiram ball handler. Michael Ewart regained possession only to have the ball pried away by Billings, with a whistle intervening for a jump ball as soon as the Scots point guard had the ball free. Next, Spencer Willman was pick-pocketed from behind with the ball bouncing right to Meredith, and Doug Sartain had a similar fate on the next possession, with Billings' deflection that time going to Warstler.
About a minute later, Billings deflected the ball away from Ewart, chased it down on the sideline, and saved it back in play to Hardaway.
The second half was more of the same when it came to Billings’ knack for the ball. At the 12:04 mark, he tipped the ball away from Sartain. Then with 9:23 to go, Gordon was the victim of a Billings’ steal.
Meredith turned in his fifth career 20-point game with a season-best 26 points. He shot 9 of 14 overall, including 4 of 7 from deep. Billings followed with 22 points, five rebounds, four assists, and four steals. Sophomore Nick Everett, who was making his second career start, finished with seven points, seven rebounds, and four blocked shots.
Wooster shot 42.2 percent (27 of 64), was 18 of 21 on free throws, but was outrebounded 46-32 and outscored by 12 on 3-pointers.
Sartain hit 5 of 8 3-pointers to account for the majority of his co-team-leading 17 points. Gordon added 17 points and six assists, while Sartain’s nine rebounds was a game-high.
Hiram shot 45.1 percent (32 of 71) and had 34 bench points to Wooster’s five.
Wooster will play at Wabash College (13-3, 8-1), which took over first place in the conference standings with the Scots’ loss, at 2 p.m. Sunday.
This article originally appeared on The Daily Record: Kevin Beans Jr.'s buzzer-beater lifts Hiram over Wooster