The Hillsdale men’s basketball team (17 – 4, 11 – 3 G-MAC) ran through the competition last week with two wins on its home court, winning a hard fought battle against Kentucky Wesleyan University (12 – 11, 6 – 7 G-MAC) on Thursday and a high scoring affair against Trevecca Nazarene University (4 – 17, 3 – 10 G-MAC) on Saturday.
The Chargers earned a 74 – 63 revenge victory over Kentucky Wesleyan University who had beaten Hillsdale in a nail-biting overtime contest in December.
In a physical defensive game, senior guard Ryan Badowski led the Chargers in scoring with 24 points on 5 – 12 shooting and hitting 10 – 11 from the free throw line. He also added 5 rebounds and had 5 steals.
“Badowski is running really good offense right now,” Tharp said. “He is reading the defense incredibly well.”
Late in the game, with a narrow 52 – 48 lead, Badowski swiped three passes, including two on inbound plays over 2 minutes of play while scoring a quick 12 points with a three-pointer, an and-one play, and 6 free throws. The flurry increased the Charger lead to 8 points and held off a late Panther scoring run.
“We just gutted it out,” head coach John Tharp said. “We just found a different way to win.”
Junior guard Nate Neveau had the hot hand on the night, scoring 21 points with 3 triples and going a perfect 10 – 10 from the free-throw line while adding 4 steals and 2 assists.
Against a trio of 6 foot 9 inch Panther forwards, junior forward Nick Czarnowski battle to haul in 11 rebounds while getting Amir Warnock, the starting center for Kentucky Wesleyan, in foul trouble early, limiting to only 2 points in 14 minutes of action.
Hillsdale won the game at the foul line after drawing 24 personal fouls where as a team they shot 26 – 29 — nearly 90 percent — despite shooting only 32 percent from the field.
“We told our guys we were really proud of how we one that game,” Tharp said. “Sometimes you have to win without shooting a high percentage.”
The Panthers shot 41 percent from the field and 45 percent from the field but had fewer free-throw attempts which allowed the Chargers to go on a 26 – 15 run over the last 8 minutes of the game.
The Chargers put the game away going 8 – 8 in free-throws in the final minutes of the game.
“We had the right guys shooting free throws, the ball handlers,” Tharp said.
With the playoffs approaching, hard foughts wins like this seem to mean more.
“It felt really good to beat them on our home floor because we have never done that,” senior guard Stedman Lowry said.
The Hillsdale men’s basketball team came back Saturday to earn a decisive 74 – 63 victory over the Trevecca Nazarene Trojans.
Freshman forward Austen Yarian put on a show scoring 19 points on 8 – 9 shooting while grabbing 5 rebounds.
“Yarian shows flashes at almost every practice, every game, Tharp said. “He hasn’t done it all like he did on Saturday. He just saw one go in and he was really confident. He just didn’t think a lot and his mind was free out there.”
This season, Yarian has averaged 3.5 points per game and has been hesitant to shoot three pointers. But on Saturday, he shot 3 – 4 from beyond the arc.
“We know he is really good, senior guard Stedman Lowry said. “He didn’t redshirt because we knew he could help us a lot. As soon as he hit couple early, he kept rolling.”
His breakout performance was supported by steady veteran production as each starter scored over 8 points, with Lowry having 15 points and dishing 5 assists.
Czarnowski stuffed the stat sheet, scoring 11 points while adding 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, and a steal.
Unlike the grind against Kentucky Wesleyan, Hillsdale shot 57.4 percent from the field and 41.7 from beyond the arc against Trevecca Nazarene while sharing the ball and creating 18 team assists.
“We have to get their defense shifting as we share the basketball. It is one of the first things we look at. It isn’t always the assist, often it is the pass before that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet. We are an unselfish team and it is a credit to our guys,” Tharp said.
The Chargers will play their next two games on the road. Thursday they will face Walsh College at 5:30 p.m. and Saturday they will face Malone University at 1 p.m.
“We got to play with an edge. If we take a deep breath and relax, we could be in big trouble. If we guard, take care of the basketball, and act tough, good things happen.”