Tiffin keeps coming back for more

For Tiffin University’s basketball teams, it was a doubleheader worth coming back for.

First, TU’s women rallied from a 14-point first-half deficit to clip Hillsdale, 76-73 at the Gilmor Center. Then, the Dragon men fought off an early 19-point hole to stun the Chargers in overtime, 75-70.

In the women’s game, freshman Kaylee Patton was terrific, just one of three freshman to score in double digits for TU.

“It definitely feels great,” said Patton after an 18-point, five-assist, four-rebound game against the Chargers. “We knew the upperclassmen really wanted these wins, and the lower-classmen are now figuring out these are the games we need to win.”

The game was really a freshman showcase, with fellow TU newcomers Bre Nauman (12 points, 9 rebounds) and Anya Misko (10 points, 6 rebounds) helping the team to its second conference win in three games.

“I absolutely felt that our freshmen stepped up big for us tonight,” Dragons’ coach Pam Oswald said after her squad improved to 7-12, 4-11 in the GLIAC. “Making those little energy plays.”

One came from Misko. With her team up a point and with the ball with less than a minute left, Misko rebounded a Deidre McKay miss and put it back up and in with 39 seconds left. With TU now leading 73-70, Patton got a steal, and the Dragons held on from there.

Senior Jillian Adams, who finished with six points, said the win showed resolve.

“We just keep focusing on pushing through and having energy,” she said. “I know we get down, and that’s kind of our downfall this season, but we just pushed through the storm.”

The TU men did the same thing. After falling behind the Chargers 29-10, the Dragons battled back behind Khaleal McCormick, who tied a career high with 31 points. Joe Graessle added 18 points and seven assists.

“We got on it in the defensive end,” McCormick said. “That created offense.”

But down two in regulation with the clock winding down, the hero wasn’t Graessle or McCormick. It was – as coach Jerry Buccilla said afterward – option three.

Kelvin Toma, who came in averaging 2.5 points a game and who hadn’t played in five games was that option.

“Khaleal was guarded pretty good, so he gave me the ball and I had to do something,” said Toma, who finished with seven points in 21 minutes off the bench.

Just before the buzzer, Toma lifted a floater,

It was perfect. The game was tied at 64.

“The kid’s one of the hardest workers we have,” Graessle said. “I was really glad to see he was able to hit that.”

In OT, Toma broke the Chargers defense for another layup, giving the Dragons a 70-69 edge with 3:28 left. It was just TU’s second lead of the game. But the Dragons protected it the rest of the way to improve to 8-12, 4-11.

Buccilla, a first-year head coach at TU, was asked if this was his biggest win.

“It’s a good win,” he said. “It’s a really good win.”