Hillsdale Women’s Basketball won its third game on Wednesday, kicking off the season with a 3 – 0 record. From Friday’s energetic home game and Saturday’s buzzer beater to Wednesday’s first away game, head coach Todd Mitmesser’s second season looks promising.
On Wednesday, the Chargers won 75 – 57 against St. Joseph’s College, a team that won 19 games last year and retained some of its key players. Mitmesser attributed the win to Hillsdale’s tough, aggressive defense.
“We did a really good job during the first quarter attacking the best players and getting them into foul trouble. We got all three of the best players in foul trouble,” Mitmesser said. In particular, the team defended Kalea Parks of St. Joseph’s, holding her to just 4 points.
“Defensively, we looked to limit her touches. Several people guarded her and denied her the ball,” Mitmesser said.
Led in scoring by junior Allie Dittmer and sophomore Allie Dewire, the Chargers entered the fourth quarter with a 24-point lead. They outperformed the Pumas in rebounds and assists, as well.
According to Mitmesser, the team continues to work on defensive communication, refusing to relax despite its strong start
“Every game is a test. Now, we’ve got to continue to get better, one game at a time, one week at a time. We’ve got tough games on the road this week rather than two at home, so we’ve gotta be able to stay focused when we play,” Mitmesser said.
The Chargers tipped off their season on Friday with a 76 – 47 win against McKendree, outscoring the Bearcats in all four quarters. Freshman center Julia Wacker led the team’s offense, putting up 12 points.
“It was a little nerve-wrecking, but the good kind, with an adrenaline rush,” Wacker said. “It’s a lot faster [than in high school], and definitely during preseason you get used to it a lot.”
The Chargers took the lead just five minutes in and ended the first quarter ahead 17 – 12, before distinguishing their lead in the second quarter, where they outscored McKendree 23 – 4, holding McKendree to just 12 percent from the floor that quarter.
Saturday’s hotly-contested game against Illinois-Springfield came down to the last second. The game was tied 70 – 70 with five seconds to go when Shelbi Patterson of Ill.-Springfield missed a jump shot. Hillsdale senior Morgan Blair rebounded and called a timeout, giving the Chargers time to pick a play and sending the ball to the offensive zone.
Blair passed the ball to sophomore Makenna Ott, whose strong drive towards the basket drew defenders. Ott missed her layup, but Dittmer converted her offensive rebound into a last-second layup, scoring the final two points to clinch the game.
“After the timeout, we had a play ready, and we were able to execute that really well. Makenna created a good shot, so I was able to get into position to get the rebound,” Dittmer said.
Mitmesser said the opportunity came down to Blair’s rebound and timeout.
“We had four seconds, which is what it takes for two shot attempts. The reason we were able to do that was because Morgan made that really good call by calling timeout without making a dribble,” Mitmesser said. “Makenna is just a really tough kid to defend because she’s so versatile. I wish she would have made the layup, but because she drove it strong to the basket, if you drive hard you’ll draw defenders and open up rebounders. Allie did a really good job of getting that rebound.”
Although the Charger field goal percentage shot down from 50 percent to about 38 percent from Friday and Saturday, Mitmesser and Dittmer both said they were happy with the way the team performed.
“We were getting a lot of open shots, but we need to finish them,” Dittmer said. “As a team, we were doing really well, we’re playing as a whole.”
Dittmer led the team in both rebounds and points with 19 rebounds — a personal record — and 27 points, just two shy of her 29-point record. She played all but three minutes.
“It’s so fun being able to play with [Allie,] because then I can learn from her and someday I can play like her, hopefully,” Wacker said.
On Saturday, the Chargers will travel again to compete against Wisconsin Parkside, who is off to a 0 – 3 start.
“It’s another game on the road, so we need to bring the best game. I liked the way we came out today, so we’ll try to repeat that on Saturday,” Mitmesser said.