The GLIAC’s leading scorer added a game-winner to his resume on Thursday night.
Walsh guard Zac Carter scored 26 points, including the winning basket with 1.1 seconds remaining, as the Cavaliers held off a furious second-half rally by the Hillsdale College men’s basketball team to win 79 – 77.
The loss drops Hillsdale to 7 – 10 overall and 3 – 8 in the GLIAC. Hillsdale shot 51 percent from the field while Walsh shot 46 percent, but the Cavaliers shot 21 free throws and made 18 while the Chargers made just 7. The Chargers shot above 50 percent in their past two games but have lost both.
Walsh forward Trey Fletcher led all scorers with 32 points. Hillsdale sophomore forward Nick Czarnowski led the Chargers with 16 points and 8 rebounds off the bench. Senior center Nick Archer scored 13 points, and senior forward Rhett Smith added 12 points.
The Cavaliers opened the game on an 8 – 0 run as the Chargers failed to score on their first four possessions. With his team struggling to score, Hillsdale head coach John Tharp decided to sub out his entire starting lineup.
The move worked, as Hillsdale’s bench unit went on a 16 – 7 run to give the Chargers a 16 – 15 lead before Tharp brought his starting lineup back into the game with 11:26 remaining in the first half.
Tharp switched completely between units twice more in the first half but neither unit was able to sustain any momentum.
With the game tied 24 – 24, the Cavaliers rattled off a 16 – 2 run to take a 40 – 26 lead with 2:09 remaining in the opening half. Fletcher torched the Chargers with 12 of the Cavaliers’ 16 points during the run. Fletcher finished the first half with 22 points on 8‑of-13 shooting.
The Chargers responded with a small run of their own and entered the break trailing 43 – 33. Hillsdale’s bench scored 26 of Hillsdale’s 33 first-half points. No Hillsdale starter scored more than 3 points in the first half. Hillsdale’s starting lineup shot a combined 23 percent (3‑of-13) in the first half, while its bench shot 63 percent (10-of-16).
After a back-and-forth start to the second half, the Chargers trailed 52 – 42. With 13:51 remaining, Gordon Behr was called for a charge in front of Hillsdale’s bench. Tharp, who had expressed some disagreement with the officials earlier in the game, disagreed with the call and got heated with an official. After receiving one technical foul, he continued to voice his displeasure and received a second technical. As a result, he was ejected from the contest and had to watch the rest of the game from outside his office.
Walsh received four free throws for the ejection and Carter made all four to extend the Cavaliers’ advantage to 14 points.
Back-to-back 3‑pointers by junior guard Ryan Badowski and sophomore point guard Nate Neveau cut Hillsdale’s deficit to 64 – 56 with 8:33 remaining in the game. Archer made a turnaround jump shot and senior forward Rhett Smith made a layup to cap off a 10 – 0 run by the Chargers to cut their deficit to four points. After a 3‑point play by Carter gave Walsh a 7‑point lead, Hillsdale scored seven straight points to tie the game at 67 with 3:51 remaining. In total, the Chargers went on a 17 – 3 run over 6:32 to erase a 14-point deficit, all occurring after Tharp’s ejection.
Tthe Chargers trailed 75 – 72 after guard Jameel Moore split a pair of free throws with 1:01 remaining. Junior guard Stedman Lowry scored a layup with 50 seconds remaining to bring Hillsdale within a point, but Carter made a midrange jump shot on the other end with 36 seconds remaining to restore Walsh’s 3‑point lead.
With 20 seconds remaining, Smith drove to the basket and made a layup through contact. Smith converted the three-point play to tie the game. But with the shot clock off, Carter let time wind down and then pulled up from just inside the 3‑point line with 1.1 seconds remaining and drained the jump shot. Neveau’s desperation half-court heave as the buzzer sounded clanged off the backboard, giving Walsh the 79 – 77 victory.
Lowry, Hillsdale’s leading scorer, finished the game with just 2 points on 1‑of‑8 shooting from the field and 0‑of‑6 shooting from beyond the arc. After the game, Lowry was practicing his shot by himself on one of Hillsdale’s practice courts.
The Chargers will look to bounce back on Saturday afternoon when they host the Tiffin Dragons. Tip off is at 3 p.m.