In two buzzer-beater games last week, the Hillsdale College women’s basketball team clinched a last-second win against Lake Erie and lost in the final moment to Ohio Dominican.
Between the two games, the lead changed more than 15 times as the Chargers battled two evenly-matched teams, but the final score in both came down to the final second. Against Lake Erie, freshman guard Bree Porter hit the final 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds left to win 67-65.
“I was very nervous because the game was super close the whole way through and we had come back from behind so I wanted to win even more. That was in the timeout, but once I went out there I was more calm,” Porter said. The final shot was her third made 3-pointer of the night.
The Storm kicked off the game with a 7-point lead, scored entirely by GLIAC leading-scorer Kayla Gabor. By the end of the first quarter, the Chargers had cut the deficit to just 3 points.
“I thought we did a really good job of defending [Gabor] after the first quarter. The girls just put forth a great deal of effort to get up and down the court, made it a faster-paced game than Lake Erie wanted,” head coach Todd Mitmesser said.
Mitmesser and Porter both attributed their win in large part to the bench players, who scored 35 — more than half — of the team’s points. One of these players was sophomore forward Brittany Gray, who tallied 14 points, her career high.
“It was kind of a weird day for me. I got up really early to shoot around, but I wasn’t really into the game until I actually got in. Everything changed around when I got in. I hit my first shot, a 3-pointer, then just went on a run and played great defense. My team, too, was just pumping me up,” Gray said.
She added that junior forward Jessica DeGree also played a key role .
“A lot of people stepped up. It was just a different dynamic. That was the change of the game, that we just had more role players going out there and doing things they’d been doing in practice,” Gray said.
Though the Chargers gave up 19 turnovers and 19 points off those turnovers, they rebounded aggressively, ending with 51 rebounds to the Storm’s 30.
Junior center Allie Dittmer led with 16 points and 11 rebounds, and sophomore guard Allie Dewire hit 10 points and 5 assists.
The home game against No. 4 in the league Ohio Dominican on Saturday echoed many of the struggles of the Lake Erie game, but when Ohio Dominican guard Alexis Overly sank a jump shot with .9 seconds to go, the Chargers weren’t able to execute the play to score their own final points.
“We played extremely hard and put ourselves in a position to win but we gave up 3 or 4 relatively easy baskets and transitions, and [Overly] hit four 3s on us and that really hurt us,” Mitmesser said. “Then we didn’t do well on offense in the last half of the fourth quarter. We missed free throws, turned the ball over unforced several times, and didn’t execute at the end of the game. We look forward to playing them at their place last game of the season.”
The Chargers’ 15 percent from behind the arc and 50 percent from at the line certainly hurt their offense, and the Panthers snagged 11 more rebounds than the Chargers, usually one of their strongest qualities.
Dewire and Dittmer once again led the team with 20 and 18 points respectively, and 16 rebounds for Dittmer.
“I think we battled really hard. Obviously it sucks losing, especially on the last second shot, but I think we just played really hard and went after it. They’re a really good team, and it proved that we can play with them next time,” Porter said.
This week, the Chargers will play at Findlay on Thursday — a team they beat by nearly twenty points last time around — and against undefeated No. 1 Ashland on Saturday at home.
Gray said the team is especially excited for the Ashland game because they only lost by 16 points last time, a much smaller win than Ashland’s average. Mitmesser echoed her words.
“It will be a great challenge for us to go against the best team in the country,” Mitmesser said. “You better be excited. You only get to play the best team in the country…not very many times in your career, so it’s a big game for us because it’s just something that doesn’t happen very often.”