The Hillsdale Chargers (17 – 6, 11 – 5 G‑MAC) dropped two games last week against conference opponents but still remain in second place in the G‑MAC. The first loss of the road trip was a thrilling defeat at the hands of the Walsh University Cavaliers (15 – 6, 10 – 5 G‑MAC) and the second came against the Malone University Pioneers (17 – 7, 10 – 6 G‑MAC).
“We knew it would be a tough week. You get on a bus, you don’t assume anything,” head coach John Tharp said.
After the first half against Walsh University, the game looked well in hand for the Chargers. Hillsdale boasted a 39 – 30 point lead after making 55 percent of their shots in the half, including 4 of 7 on three-point field goals.
But the Chargers’ offense became anemic in the second half, shooting 28 percent from the field.
“We didn’t come out of halftime the right way,” Tharp said. “We didn’t control the tempo like we needed to.”
Though senior guards Ryan Badowski and Stedman Lowry have shot well from beyond the arc this season, 39 and 37 percent respectively, the duo missed 9 of their 10 shots from three in the second half.
Missed shots by Hillsdale and hot shooting aided by tough rebounding late in the game by Walsh allowed the Cavaliers to overcome the 9 point deficit with 2:00 left in the game.
With the game tied at 59, Junior forward Nick Czarnowski made a layup, giving the Chargers a 61 – 59 lead.
From there, neither team could score over the final two minutes, with three missed shots and a turnover. But with 15 seconds remaining, Neveau drove to the rim and dumped the ball off junior forward Gordon Behr who went for an easy layup with 15 seconds remaining. Walsh guard Bo Furcron rose up with Behr and violently blocked his shot.
Malone freshman guard Darryl Straughter nabbed the rebound and shot the ball from far beyond the three-point line as the buzzer sounded.
“We got caught staring for a quarter of a second, and the guy throws up a sideline shot,” Tharp said.
The ball dropped through the net and Badowski bent over, with his hands on his knees, and looked up at the basket for a moment.
“It was a good, old-fashioned kick in the gut,” Tharp said.
Despite the loss, freshman Austen Yarian, coming off a breakout game last week, continued to produce, scoring 11 points on 5 – 7 shooting while adding 8 rebounds and a block.
Straughter had the hot hand for the game, scoring 19 points on 7 – 9 shooting.
The second game of the road trip ended in a 77 – 68 loss to Malone University, who had upset Findley, the top team in the G‑MAC, earlier in the week.
In the first half, both teams had trouble scoring, as Hillsdale made only 26 percent of their shots including only 2 of 13 three-pointers while Malone struggled with turnovers and shot 33 percent from the field. The score was 25 – 24 in favor of Malone at halftime.
In the second half, shooting percentages improved for the Chargers but the Pioneers continued to find the bottom of the net, making nearly 70 percent of their three-point attempts, and scoring 52 points in the half; the most points the Chargers have given up in a half all season.
“When a good shooter on their home floor sees one go in, it may not matter what you do to stop them,” Tharp said.
Malone also shared the ball well, with 11 assists in their prolific half from 6 different players.
Behr had a complete game against Malone, scoring 14 points on 6 – 10 shooting, grabbing 10 rebounds, and blocking 5 shots.
“Gordy had one of his better games, but just didn’t have enough around him,” Tharp said.
Badowski had 10 points and 9 rebounds. He and Lowry continued to struggle, shooting 1 – 15 from beyond the arc.
“The guys who are shot makers, it just isn’t happening,” Tharp said.
The Chargers return to action against Lake Erie College at home on Saturday at 3 p.m.