TIFFIN, Ohio - Kentucky Wesleyan held Tiffin men's basketball to their lowest scoring output of the season on Thursday night, defeating the Dragons 71-67 behind clutch free throw shooting in the final minutes.
TU came into the contest averaging 89.7 points per game, but were held below 70 for the first time on the year.
With the loss, the Dragons fall to 0-3 in the conference and 2-6 overall.
Neither team had particularly high shooting numbers, but the Panthers were able to gain a significant advantage on the glass, outrebounding Tiffin 45-33. The Dragons turned KWC over well, causing 22 turnovers while committing just 12, and outscoring the Panthers 23-9 off of those turnovers. The free throw line has the big difference in the game, though, as Kentucky Wesleyan got to the stripe 26 times and converted on 22 of them (84.6%), while Tiffin was 8-12 (66.7%).
Tiffin started cold from the field, missing four of their first five shots and falling behind 11-2 four minutes in. Austin Adams cut the deficit to four, 16-12, with a layup at the 13:48 mark, but KWC would extend their lead up to 13 on a Zach Hopewell triple with 7:06 remaining. The Dragons cut the deficit down again to seven, 33-25, but back-to-back threes from Hopewell gave the Panthers their largest lead of the game at 14. Moments later, KWC took a 39-28 lead into the break.
The deficit remained around 10 until midway through the second-half. Kentucky Wesleyan held a 52-42 lead with 11:40 to play, but a Terell Mabins layup ignited a 7-0 to make it 52-49 in favor of the Panthers. After a KWC three pushed the lead back up to six, a Jarell Tayler layup and six-straight points from Joshua Williams made it a 15-3 run for the Dragons that gave the home team their first lead of the contest at 57-55 with 7:10 to go.
The teams would trade baskets until an Adams free throw tied it up at 63 with 2:37 left. However, the Panthers were able to draw contact, get to the free throw line, and convert down the stretch, making their last eight foul shots in a row to hold on for the four-point victory.
Williams led Tiffin with 19 points, while Adams recorded a double-double of 17 points and 10 boards while also registering a career-high five steals. Shane Waldon was the only other Dragon in double figures, as the senior tallied 10.
Next up for TU is another home contest on Saturday, as the Dragons host Trevecca Nazarene at 3:00 p.m.