Dragons Hang Tough with No. 16 Hilltoppers

Dragons Hang Tough with No. 16 Hilltoppers

WEST LIBERTY, W.Va. – Tiffin men's basketball was looking for an upset as they held a four-point lead at halftime over No. 16 West Liberty University on Sunday afternoon, but the Hilltoppers were able to erase that deficit and pull away late for a 97-89 victory.

Tiffin falls to 5-8 on the year and will resume conference play this weekend, as the Dragons will travel to Walsh on Thursday and Malone on Saturday.

After a Hilltopper bucket opened the scoring, Austin Adams put the Dragons in front with a three at the 19:17 mark.

West Liberty build a 13-6 lead three minutes later, but TU came back with seven-straight on a Shane Waldon layup, Joshua Williams three, and another Waldon bucket to tie things up at 13 with 13:12 remaining in the half. Two free throws from Austin Schaub and a jumper by Austin Adams completed an 11-0 Dragon run, putting TU up by four.

The Dragons extended their lead to six, 31-25, on a pair of free throws from Adams with 7:22 on the clock, and would lead all the way up to 57 seconds remaining in the half when the Hilltoppers tied the game at 44. However, a Waldon jumper and Williams layup at the buzzer put Tiffin back up by four heading into halftime.

The lead was short-lived, though, as West Liberty took their first advantage since early in the game as Yahel Hill drained a triple to put the home team up 51-50 at the 17:13 mark.

Adams responded with a three of his own to give TU back the lead, but WLU came back with a 15-3 run over the next five minutes to take a 66-56 advantage with 12:55 to play.

Not ready to give up, the Dragons stormed back with a 15-5 run and tied the game at 71 with just under ten minutes remaining. However, a Hilltopper three put West Liberty up for good as WLU pulled away and was able to maintain a 5-10 point lead throughout the rest of the contest.

Despite the high scoring numbers, neither team shot particularly well as both were under 50% from the field and 25% from deep. The Dragon three-point defense was particularly stingy, holding the Hilltoppers to just 16.7% (4-24) shooting from beyond the arc.

Tiffin held the advantage in assists (15-12) and points off turnovers (16-9), but could not overcome being outrebounded (52-45) and outscored on second-chance opportunities (19-10).

Williams and Waldon each recorded 23 points to lead the Dragons, with Waldon also contributing a career-high 15 rebounds for his third double-double of the season. Adams also posted a double-double with 18 points and 12 boards, while Terrell Mabins added nine points and seven assists.