Men’s basketball began conference play last week with home wins over Lake Superior State and Northwood, advancing to a perfect 5 – 0 record.
On Thursday, the Chargers narrowly defeated Northwood 60 – 56 thanks to Tony Nelson’s three-pointer with 13 seconds remaining in the game. Hillsdale struggled from behind the arc in the first half, shooting only 18 percent, but was able to pick it up to 45 percent in the second half.
“We knew the shots would start to fall and we had to just keep playing our way and playing with confidence,” said junior forward Nelson, who scored nine points on 3 – 5 shooting. “That last shot would never have been possible if it wasn’t for the guys on the floor and for the penetration and pass by [junior forward] Tim Dezelski. When I got the pass I knew I had to get shot ready and shoot with confidence. I was fortunate enough that the shot went in and we were able to win the game.”
The Chargers saw stellar performances from Dezelski, who had 14 points, three assists, four rebounds, and four blocked shots and senior center Nick Washburn, who also put up 14 points and blocked three shots. Sophomore guard Cody Smith also had an impressive game, scoring a career-high 13 points.
“We knew going in that the Northwood game was going to be a grind,” head coach John Tharp said. Tharp credited the team’s victory to strong team defense and solid ball protection, as Hillsdale only allowed three turnovers.
Hillsdale was able to ride this momentum into Saturday’s game against Lake Superior State, which they won 71 – 57. The Chargers shot only 39 percent from the floor, but their defensive pressure and presence on the boards ensured another Hillsdale win.
The Chargers had production from a variety of different players in their Saturday win. Dezelski led the team with 15 points and nine rebounds. Washburn dominated the boards, pulling down a game-high 10 rebounds. Junior guard Brandon Pritzl had an exceptional all-around effort with 13 points, four assists, and two steals, while Smith contributed 12 points. Redshirt-freshman center Jason Pretzer had an outstanding off-the-bench game with 13 points in only nine minutes on the court.
“The thing we’re pleased about as a staff is that we feel like it’s been different guys different nights that have really helped this basketball team win,” Tharp said. “Our bench production has been fantastic and we need to have that continue in order for us to be successful.”
The Chargers will begin their first away stretch of the season when they play Northern Michigan tonight at 5:30 p.m. and Michigan Tech at 1:00 p.m on Saturday.
“I thought we played a good second half against LSSU. We really grinded after having a bad first half and slow start in the second. It was great seeing Jason Pretzer step up and playing a big game to help get us going. The game as a whole just showed how deep we are and how it may be different guys every night.”