Senior Ryan Badowski ended his last home game as a member of the Hillsdale College basketball team hanging on the rim after a two-handed slam dunk. Thirty seconds later, senior Stedman Lowry had a lay-in from the baseline and the two senior guards shook head coach John Tharp’s hand and sat on the bench to watch the final moments of the 94 – 76 victory over Ohio Valley University as their parents cheered them on.
Badowski led the team in scoring with a season-high 36 points, the most since Kyle Cooper racked up 40 in 2016. He shot with accuracy and poise, going 13 – 18 from the field on 5 – 7 shooting from beyond the arc, and a cool 5 – 5 from the free throw line.
But he didn’t do it all himself. Lowry, who ranks third all-time in career three pointers made, added 22 points and 6 rebounds, including three first-half triples that gave the sputtering Hillsdale team some life.
These two performances were the culmination of a career for both players. Badowski spent a year at Division I Longwood University before transferring to Hillsdale his sophomore year. Lowry turned down Division I offers to come play for the Chargers and receive a great education.
“They are both college 1,000 point scorers here,” Tharp said. “They have had tremendous careers here. We are thankful for them and sad to see them go.”
After the first half in which the Fighting Scots shot 8 – 11 from beyond the arc, the Chargers knew the Fighting Scots, though at the bottom of the conference standings, were a dangerous team.
The first half run by the Scots including three triples by senior guard Aleksandar Djordjevic, a 21 percent three-point shooter on the season, as he poured in 19 first-half points.
“It was more of a dogfight that I wanted it to be,” Tharp said.
The team headed into the locker room with a 48 – 44 lead and got hot in the second half, shooting 58 percent from the field and 50 percent from three. Badowski’s quickness allowed him to get easy buckets off the dribble against the Fighting Scots’ lax defense.
“We tried to get out tempo going and some of their guys were in foul trouble, so we let Badowski go off the bounce at them,” Tharp said. “They are not a great defensive team by any stretch of the imagination.”
Sharing the ball helped the Chargers have one of their highest scoring games this season, as they racked up 21 assists from 10 different players.
But the Hillsdale seniors weren’t the only Chargers to contribute to the win. Freshman forward Austen Yarian used his savage toughness to rip down 11 rebounds while he scored 4 points, and added 3 assists in 21 minutes of action.
“He is a young man who has some of the same qualities of some of the best players, the All-Americans, we have ever had here,” Tharp said. “If he continues to work and develop, he has the potential for a bright future.”
Junior forward Gordon Behr had a complete game as he scored 9 points, grabbed 5 rebounds, and added 2 assists, 2 blocks, and a steal.
With 10:54 left in the game, Ohio Valley pulled to within 6 points. Hillsdale responded with a flurry of scoring from Badowski and sophomore forward Davis Larson, capped by a high-arcing three-pointer by Behr to put the game out of reach for Ohio Valley.
Hillsdale caps its season against the University of Findlay, the roaring dragon at the top of the G-MAC conference standings, on the road on Saturday at 1 p.m.
“The kids know the battle we have ahead,” Tharp said. “They know. They get it.”
The Charger men are also well in the hunt for a bid to the Division II national tournament. The team is currently a No. 6 seed in the region and the top four teams in the region are a lock to receive bids, Tharp said. A win over Findlay may give them the boost they need to get to the tournament.
“We have battled all year and we have a chance to write the end of our own story here,” Tharp said.