After a tough loss against Saginaw Valley and a buzzer-beater loss to Wayne State University, the Hillsdale women’s basketball team will finally play two home games this weekend. The losses drop the Chargers to 0 – 2 record in conference play and 5 – 3 overall.
“It’s going to be a tough week for us, even though we’re at home,” head coach Todd Mitmesser said. “There aren’t very many easy games in the GLIAC.”
With an All-American post player and several other impressive players, Saginaw Valley took off offensively in the the first quarter, increasing its first quarter 11-point lead to 17 points by the half.
The Chargers burst into the third quarter with momentum and a 9 – 0 run. At one point, they chiseled the Cardinals’ lead down to just five points, but ultimately Saginaw Valley won 73 – 48.
“Last year, when we would get down by 10 or 12 points, we would let that gap get bigger. No one would take control and help us get back in it,” sophomore guard Allie Dewire said. “This year, every time we’ve been down by a lot we’ve managed to chip away at it. Even against Saginaw, we chipped that lead down to five. We let it go again, but that’s just a testament that we’re not throwing the towel in.”
With three Hillsdale guards battling injuries, freshman Bree Porter saw plenty of playing time: 18 minutes.
“First, it was really nerve-wracking stepping up and having to play a lot more minutes than I originally expected, but it helped me be a lot more confident knowing that I can play at this level. I wasn’t as nervous when I messed up, I wasn’t afraid I would have to go sit back down on the bench,” Porter said.
She played a solid defensive game, grabbing two rebounds and two steals.
For the first and only time so far this season, the Chargers were outrebounded. Hillsdale shot 0 – 13 beyond the arch, while Saginaw Valley only shot 3 – 11 on 3-pointers. Junior Allie Dittmer led the Chargers with 14 points.
Hillsdale’s matchup against Wayne State was much tighter — the lead changed 11 times, four times in the final quarter alone. With 12 seconds left in the game, Wayne State’s Ajai Meeks shot two free throws to take a one-point lead. Five seconds later, Dewire made two free throws to earn back the lead.
“I got fouled, and I had to make these two free throws to tie them and then lead. I was like ‘Okay, you can do this.’ I made the first one, then the second one, and I was so hype,” Dewire said.
In the last second, the Warriors’ Shannon Wilson made a final layup to win the game for Wayne State, but Mitmesser said he was still pretty happy with the performance.
“We had some nice things going on, we attacked the way that we are capable of defensively,” Mitmesser said. “We let a couple of shooters get open, and also we did not defend them in transition as well as we should have, so they had some easy buckets on us. They really did a good job mentally preparing for the Wayne State game.”
Dewire scored 17 points, just one short of her career high, and eight rebounds. Sophomore forward Makenna Ott led the team in scoring with 19 points, and junior guard Maddy Reed got 10 rebounds.
This weekend, the Chargers will face off at home with Grand Valley and Ferris State — two difficult teams, according to Dewire. In last year’s game against Grand Valley, the Chargers lost in another buzzer beater.
“Last year, we showed them that we can play with them, so this year I hope we can execute the whole game,” Dewire said. “We definitely have the talent, it’s just about executing: playing our game and not letting them control the floor and dictate how the game’s going to be played.”