The Hillsdale College Chargers split a two-game road trip last week, falling to Walsh University on Thursday, 68 – 60, and defeating Malone University two days later, 66 – 62.
Both Walsh and Malone are located in Canton, Ohio, so the team stayed in the area during the off day in between games.
The Chargers got off to a rough start against Walsh, falling behind 9 – 0 before head coach Matt Fritsche called a timeout to regroup. Hillsdale eventually got on the scoreboard midway through the first quarter.
“We were disappointed to lose; it wasn’t an effort or focus issue,” Fritsche said. “On the road, things have to go well, and they didn’t. We played really hard and they made some good plays. It was just one of those deals.”
The Chargers turned the ball over 20 times. Fritsche said although the team had troubles with turnovers early in the season, he isn’t concerned about that issue resurfacing in the season’s final month.
“Our turnovers were a little bit uncharacteristic,” Fritsche said. “We were trying to make plays because we were down. We made some late mistakes when we were trying to do everything we could to get back in the game. It doesn’t concern me moving forward.”
Junior guard Allie Dewire played her best game of the season, scoring 19 points and hauling in 12 rebounds. Twelve boards is no insignificant statistic to Dewire, who is listed at 5’6” tall but jokes with her teammates that she’s really 5’7”.
“Most people don’t expect a guard to come in and rebound,” Dewire said. “When other people are boxing their girls out it gives me an open lane. That’s a group effort right there.”
Along with her double-double, Dewire dished out five assists and recorded three steals. In the victory against Malone, she tallied 15 points, six rebounds, and four assists.
“She’s a really hard kid to guard,” Fritsche said. “Her focus has been great all year. She’s starting to understand more of what we want on offense.”
Dewire leads the team with 68 assists this season.
“You want to get the ball moving. It’s a dual effort,” Dewire said. “When I start contributing and the other team gets worried about me scoring, I can kick it out to my teammates. They do the hard work. I just give them the ball.”
Senior center Allie Dittmer added 14 points and eight rebounds in the loss while junior forward Makenna Ott scored 10 points and collected five boards.
The Chargers got off to a better start on Saturday against Malone, and outscored the Pioneers 15 – 7 in the third quarter to build a 12 point lead heading into the final quarter. The Pioneers gave Hillsdale their best shot in the fourth quarter and tied the game at 62 with less than a minute left, but senior guard Maddy Reed’s layup and free throw in the final minute sealed the deal, and the Chargers escaped with a narrow victory.
Dittmer led the way with 21 points and eight rebounds, and Ott added 15 points, nine rebounds, and four assists.
“Our offensive game was a lot better,” Dittmer said. “We moved the ball a lot more; it wasn’t as stagnant. We made a lot more shots so we were able to get ahead.”
Dittmer is averaging 13.6 points per game this season, second on the team to Ott, who averages 14.8 points per game.
Junior forward Brittany Gray returned to the floor after missing the previous two weeks because of an ankle sprain. She came off the bench to play 15 minutes against Malone, and Fritsche said she should be ready to return to the starting lineup this week.
The Chargers return to Dawn Tibbetts Potter Arena this Thursday for a 6 p.m. tip-off against Ursuline College, whom they beat 84 – 68 in early January. Hillsdale is 6 – 2 at home this season.
“We know we are capable of beating them,” Dittmer said. “We want to do it again because they’re still at the top of the league.”
The team then has two opportunities for revenge, as they host Lake Erie College on Saturday and hit the road to play Ohio Dominican University on Tuesday. The Chargers lost to both teams earlier this season. Ohio Dominican has already clinched a place in the G-MAC Tournament.
The Chargers currently sit in sixth place in the conference and have five games in total remaining on their schedule. They need only one more victory to clinch a tournament berth.
“We’re not even talking about it,” Fritsche said, referring to their potential place in the tournament. “We want to finish as high as we can. We’re focused on winning every game that gets put in front of us. Our whole focus is just to improve every day.”
Improving every day means winning out in Dewire’s mind.
“We’re definitely not settling for one win. Not even four wins. We’re going to go for all five,” Dewire said. “If we finish strong, it’ll be a good entry into the tournament.”