Over the past two weeks, the Hillsdale men’s basketball team improved to a 3 – 0 season, beating St. Joseph’s College and Lewis University and continuing its flawless home court record.
On Nov. 15, the Chargers defeated St. Joseph’s 69 – 54, thanks to remarkable rebounding numbers and solid defensive execution. Hillsdale pulled down 50 rebounds to St. Joseph’s 36 and held the Pumas to 30 percent shooting from the field.
“Defensively, it was one of the best efforts that we’ve had since I’ve been here,” said head coach John Tharp.
Junior forward Tim Dezelski had an outstanding game, with 10 points and a career-high 16 rebounds, 15 of those on the defensive end.
The Charger guards led the team’s offensive effort, with a particularly impressive showing by junior Brandon Pritzl who scored a team-high 13 points and dished out five assists. Junior Anthony Manno shot a perfect 4 – 4 from the three-point range, finishing the night with 12 points. Junior Derek Schell put up 10 points, shooting 4 – 7.
In an exceptional off-the-bench performance, junior guard Darius Ware grabbed a career-high nine boards and scored five points.
“I thought we had a lot of people step up,” said senior center Nick Washburn. “We had some stretches where we really showed the kind of basketball we want to play.”
In his season debut, Washburn was forced to compete against a St. Joseph’s double-team and had four points, five rebounds, three assists, and three blocked shots.
Washburn saw a vast improvement in last Sunday’s 71 – 65 win over Lewis, with nine points, nine rebounds, and three blocks. The game was a grudge match of sorts, as the Flyers beat Hillsdale last year 62 – 52.
“We saw it as a redemption game,” said Dezelski, who had a career-best performance of 26 points and 13 rebounds. “We knew coming in that they were a very talented team led by their guards who are always looking to score. We just tried to stay focused and execute our game plan against them both offensively and defensively, which we did relatively well.”
Dezelski was very efficient from the floor, making nine of his 12 field goal attempts and sinking three out of five shots from behind the arc. Hillsdale also saw key contributions from Pritzl, who scored 12 points and Ware, who put up seven, including four free throws in the last minute of the game.
Coach Tharp reiterated that such balanced performances are characteristic of the team’s depth this year, which will be helpful as Hillsdale competes in conference play. The Chargers will get a chance to prove their conference merit when they play Northwood University tonight at 6 p.m. and Lake Superior State University on Saturday at 1 p.m., both at home.