OWENSBORO, KY (WFIE) - The Kentucky Wesleyan College men’s basketball lost a back-and-forth battle with Tiffin University on Saturday afternoon. In a game that featured four ties and 13 lead changes, the Dragons came away with an 85-81 Great Midwest victory at the Sportscenter.
The Panthers (7-13, 5-9 G-MAC) and their sharp shooters stretched the Tiffin defense through the most of the first half. With outside shots falling, the lane was left at times unattended for high percentage opportunities. Midway through the first half the Panther built a 26-20 lead.
The Dragons (8-16, 4-12 G-MAC) cut the deficit to four points after a fast break dunk that looked to shift momentum, but Cameron Cartwright put an end to that with an immediate three-point basket. Zach Hopewell followed with one of his own while Cartwright made it nine unanswered points with another bucket from the perimeter. The Panthers established a 35-22 lead with 6:32 left in the period.
Wesleyan scored two points in the final four minutes of the half that allowed the Dragons to make a run. A 10-2 rally followed, turning a nine-point Wesleyan lead into a 39-38 edge at the break.
With another fast start out of the locker-room, the Panthers worked their lead back in to double-digits, 54-44, after a Deng Mayot dunk at the 13-minute mark. Four minutes later the Dragons we back within one, 57-56.
The tit-for-tat battle ensued over the final eight minutes as the lead changed hands seven times in the that stretch. Tyler Bezold tied the game at 73 with three minutes left after a three-point basket. Thomas Hickman answered on the next possession with a lay-up. The Dragons established a two-possession lead and kept the contest that way until 17 seconds left when Erik Bell’s lay-up brought the Panthers to 82-79.
The Panthers continued to foul in hopes of narrowing the margin. Mohamed Abu Arisha converted another lay-up with seven seconds left that cut the Dragons’ lead to 83-81. However, Hickman drained two crucial free-throws in the final seconds to clinch the road win.
Adam Goetz finished with 21 points and six rebounds. Abu Arisha recorded his sixth double-double of the season with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Hopewell added 14 points in 22 minutes before fouling out of the contest. The Panthers will travel to Canton, Ohio on Thursday to play Malone. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 PM CST.