Fast start, aggressive “D” shoots Wabash past Hiram

HIRAM, Jan. 11 – Vinny Buccilla and Ahmoni Jones drove Wabash to an early lead which it never relinquished as the visiting Little Giants (12-3, 5-1 and tied for first in the North Coast Athletic Conference, NCAC) motored past Hiram 83-67 at Price Gymnasium here.

Bucilla scored the first seven points of the contest and Jones added two more to put Wabash ahead 9-0 at the 16:28 mark in the first half. Hiram’s Trent Jakacki and Noah Adams – the latter coming off the bench – tried to respond for the Terriers, but the home team could never get its deficit below 10 points.

Wabash kept expanding that advantage, using opportunistic defense and takeaways. It held Hiram to 16 points below its season average. The Little Giant offense stayed in high gear, thanks to excellent ball distribution from Sam Comer. Comer dealt out seven assists to go along with six points just in the first half, and went on to finish the game with 10 assists.

At one point the Little Giants led 40-20, and went into the locker room at halftime ahead 42-26. Hiram crawled back to within nine points of Wabash on a couple of occasions in the second half, but Jones poured in 15 of his team-high 23 points in the after intermission to go along with seven rebounds – all defensive ones – to deprive the Terriers of second-chance opportunities.

“This one (Hiram) was really important. We needed to get on the road and get a road win,” says Wabash Head Coach Kyle Brumett after the contest. “It’s a big game because this is a chance for this team to play at the top of the conference (referring to Saturday’s upcoming game vs. DePauw).

“We did a really good job of taking the threes away (from Hiram), Brummett adds. “That’s an emphasis for us all of the time, but we held them to just one in the first half and three for the game.”

Hear Coach Brumett’s comments here:

Buccilla credited the Wabash defense as a key to the victory.

“We got some steals early. Sam (Comer) hit me with a couple .of shots. Starting defensively (with) aggressiveness, led to a good start,” he says. “That was our main thing, to get some steals, and get us off to a good start. especially on the road.”

Jones emphasized the importance of aggressiveness.

“Really coming out from the tip aggressively and having a lot of energy,” he says. “It’s not easy winning on the road especially driving five and a half hours to Hiram ….So really our focus was sticking to the game plan and coming out aggressive, and that’s what we did. We found open teammates, we were unselfish.”

Hear Vinny Buccilla and Ahmoni Jones’ post-game comments here:

Buccilla finished with 22 points and three steals. Avery Beaver, playing significant time in the role of sixth man, notched 12 points. Champ McCorkle brought down 10 rebounds. Edreee Redmond added 9 points, and Styles McCorkle and Comer each put up 6 points.

Wabash shot 49% from the field and 44% (12 of 27) from three-point land.

Hiram’s Trent Jakacki led the Terriers with 18 points, followed by Dushawn Hill with 14 and Kevin Beans Jr with 10 points and 9 rebounds. Good Wabash defense limited Hiram to 42% shooting from the field and just 20% (3 of 15) from beyond the three-point arc. The Terriers are now 8-7 on the season, 3-4 in the NCAC.

“It’s great for us to play teams like this. This was a team that was in the final four last year, Wabash, and they’re really consistent, they’re physical, they know who they are, and they execute really well,” says Hiram Coach Taylor Roth in complimenting the winning squad. “And as we keep trying to build the program and compete at the top level, we see where we need to go.”

Roth also singled out a couple of his players for their performances.

“Trent Jakacki had a another good game. (He’s) a sophomore who came along really well offensively,” Roth adds. “Dushawn Hill, a freshman, came off the bench and gave us a spark offensively. They did a great job of finishing around the basket and making some tough crucial plays.”

Hear Coach Roth’s comments here: (two files):  

Here is the box score for the game:

Next up for the Little Giants is rival DePauw, also 12-3 and 4-2 in the NCAC. Wabash travels to Greencastle, Ind. on Saturday for that contest. Hiram stays at home, hosting Denison, 7-7 and 3-3 in the NCAC, also on Saturday.

Story and all photographs by EyeOnCleveland founder John Kerezy, associate professor of Media & Journalism Studies at Cuyahoga Community College. You can reach him at john.kerezy@tri-c.edu.

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