TIFFIN, Ohio - Tiffin men's basketball jumped out to big early lead over Maryville on Sunday, holding as high as a 14-point advantage in the first-half, but the Saints were able to slowly chip away and eventually defeat the Dragons in overtime 83-76.
Thomas Hickman sent the game into the extra period with a beautiful, acrobatic move in the lane for two to tie things up at 72 apiece, but the Dragons were outscored 11-4 in overtime, with nine of the 11 Saint points coming from the free throw line.
Parker Long in particular was a thorn in Tiffin's side, scoring a game-high 32 points with a perfect 12-12 mark from the charity stripe.
Shooting was fairly even across the board for both teams from the field, but Tiffin was able to hold an advantage from deep with seven threes to Maryville's three on the afternoon. The free throw line definitely affected the outcome, as Tiffin went just 5-12 (41.7%) from the line while Maryville was 20-26 (76.9%).
The rest of the game was about as even as could be, with the Saints holding advantages in rebounds (45-43), turnovers (16-18), and fast break points (21-16) and Tiffin leading in second chance points (12-7) and assists (17-9). Both teams scored 42 points in the paint.
Jairus Stevens played well offensively, leading the Dragons with 25 points on 11-19 shooting while narrowly missing a double-double with nine rebounds including five on the offensive end. Joshua Williams was also in double figures with 15 points along with three assists, while Trent Williams add 10 points and three assists off the bench. Wesley Jordan had eight points, all coming on four dunks, along with six boards.
Tiffin's hot start was a sight to behold, as the Dragons raced out to a 16-2 lead at the 16:11 mark that included two dunks from Jordan, a steal and two-handed slam from Hickman, a three from Josh Williams, and seven points from Stevens (triple, layup, and dunk).
The Saints picked up the defensive intensity from there, though, slowing the Dragon offense down with a zone that was tough to penetrate. Marville cut the deficit to single digits at 28-19 on a Parker Long jumper with 7:12 to go in the first-half, and would eventually cut the TU lead to two, 30-28, on a dunk from Kamto Eze at the 3:14 mark.
Tiffin was able to regroup and stave off the comeback before the half ended, keeping the Saints at bay and taking a 37-34 lead into the break.
The Dragons opened the second-half well, building the lead up to seven, 43-36, on another one of Jordan's high-flying slams. The lead grew to 10, Tiffin's highest of the second period, at the 12:47 mark as Ian Kelly put through a layup.
Maryville would not go away, however, digging in defensively and chipping away before finally taking a 64-63 lead on a Parker Long jumper with 4:24 remaining in regulation. The teams traded buckets until Long poured in a pair of free throws with 29 seconds to play that put Maryville up by two. Hickman would not let the game end in regulation, though, hitting a runner in the lane with 14 seconds left to send things to overtime.
Tiffin did not score in the first three minutes of the extra period, though, falling behind by five, 77-74, before Jordan cut the deficit to three at the 1:48 mark. It would not be quite enough, as the Saints converted on six of six from the free throw line for the rest of the game, securing the victory.
The Dragons will remain home for one more game during the season-opening homestand on Thursday, hosting Wright State-Lake at 7:30 p.m.