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Junior forward Makenna Ott recorded a double double in Saturday’s victory over Trevecca Nazarene Uni­versity. (Photo: Carly Gouge | Courtesy)

When head coach Matt Fritsche called a timeout two and a half minutes into last Thursday’s home game against Ken­tucky Wes­leyan Uni­versity (11 – 8, 7 – 8 G-MAC), he was less than thrilled with his team’s rebounding efforts.

The Hillsdale College Chargers (12 – 7, 10 – 5) had dug them­selves into an early hole, due partly to their lack­luster per­for­mance on the defensive glass.

For the ensuing 37 minutes after the timeout, the Chargers took command on the boards and didn’t look back.

Hillsdale dom­i­nated the glass on both ends of the floor, grabbing 22 offensive rebounds, while out-rebounding the Pan­thers in total, 58 – 24. The Chargers’ rebounding supe­ri­ority led to a 83 – 58 victory at Dawn Tib­betts Potter Arena.

“We really got after them about their effort,” Fritsche said of the timeout. “We basi­cally told them ‘You can’t win like that.’ From then on, it was game over.”

In one game, Hillsdale moved from fifth to second in the nation in rebounding margin, out-rebounding oppo­nents by an average of 11.9 rebounds per game.

Senior center Allie Dittmer led the rebounding barrage with 12 boards. Dittmer ranks third in the G-MAC this season with 9.3 rebounds per game.

Hillsdale rode a 39.1 shooting per­centage from three-point range to pile up points on the Pan­thers. Ken­tucky Wes­leyan didn’t shoot well all night long, espe­cially from downtown, where they made only 12 percent of their three-pointers

Leading the Chargers on offense was senior guard Maddy Reed, who scored a career-high 24 points and grabbed five offensive rebounds. Reed said the Pan­thers’ focus on Dittmer got her more open looks.

“They were dou­bling Dittmer a lot and col­lapsing in, so she was able to kick it out and find me on the three-point line,” Reed said.

Freshman guard Jaycie Burger made four of eight three-pointers en route to a career-best 15 points.

“It was awesome,” Burger said of her per­for­mance. “Shooting threes is def­i­nitely some­thing I work on. We get a lot of good looks from three because of all the screens we set for each other.”

Burger drew starts both games last week with junior forward Brittany Gray out with an ankle sprain.

“Brittany is not someone you can replace,” Burger said. “I just wanted to come in and play my game.”

Fritsche said that with Gray out, the team had to be finer in its exe­cution.

“There was less margin for error this time since there was less scoring on the floor,” Fritsche said.” We had to be better at the little things, and it worked out good.”

Two days later, the Chargers hosted Trevecca Nazarene Uni­versity, whom they lost to early in the season. This time, Hillsdale pre­vailed in a back-and-forth contest, 69 – 65.

Junior forward Makenna Ott recorded a double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds. She leads the team with 15.1 points per game this season.

“She’s been a con­sistent scorer for us,” Fritsche said. “Offen­sively, she found plays for us that were available. Defen­sively, she stepped up her role rebounding the ball.”

Ott made four of seven three-pointers, including a couple early in the first quarter to get HIllsdale rolling offen­sively.

“My goal is to just be as ver­satile as pos­sible,” Ott said. “To be able to shoot outside, to be able to drive to the basket, to be able to post up; those three things I want to be able to do. That creates mis­matches for the other team.”

If it weren’t for Ott’s hot hand to begin the game, the Chargers may have been in trouble early on.

Dittmer was charged with two fouls in the first couple of minutes, forcing her to sit the bench for much of the first quarter in order to avoid further foul trouble. Fritsche acknowl­edged having Dittmer out for almost the entire first quarter was a chal­lenge to work around.

But the senior center with the G-MAC’s second-best shooting per­centage found her groove late, scoring 12 of her 14 points in the second half. Fritsche said once the Chargers started working Dittmer into the offense, their exe­cution improved expo­nen­tially.

“She makes good choices every time she touches the ball,” Fritsche said. “She’s a smart player and when we play through her, we’re better.”

Junior guard Allie Dewire, along with Reed, each flirted with double-doubles. Both sunk clutch pairs of free throws in the game’s final minute to ice the contest. Despite an admit­tedly carefree mental approach to the free throws, Reed came through nonetheless.

“I was thinking ‘wow, there’s a lot of people here… this is a pretty close game,’ and then I was shooting free throws,” Reed said, laughing. “But we practice a lot of free throws because we know they’re really important.”

The Chargers have won five of their last six games and con­tinue to climb in the G-MAC. They cur­rently sit in fifth place, but only two and a half games sep­arate them from first-place Cedarville Uni­versity.

“We’re just really excited and we can feel that energy when we practice and before games,” Reed said. “We’re going into games con­fident and knowing there’s no one team that’s untouchable.”

Hillsdale travels to play Walsh Uni­versity (12 – 8, 9 – 5) on Thursday night for a 7:30 p.m. tip off. On Sat­urday, the team travels to Malone Uni­versity (8 – 11, 6 – 9) for a 3 p.m. contest. Walsh and Malone are two teams the Chargers have beaten already this season.

“We’re going to be very pre­pared,” Ott said. “We know what’s at stake and what we have to do to win and get the job done.”