The Hillsdale College Chargers punched their ticket to the big dance with a G-MAC tour­nament victory last weekend, defeating three of the top four teams in the con­ference.

Vic­tories over Ursuline College, Cedarville Uni­versity, and the Uni­versity of Findlay earned Hillsdale an auto­matic bid to the NCAA Division II Women’s College Bas­ketball Cham­pi­onship, which begins this weekend.

The Chargers draw the top team in the Midwest Regional right off the bat, facing one of the tournament’s eight No. 1 seeds, Ashland Uni­versity, on Friday evening. Tip off is at 5 p.m. in Ashland, Ohio.

“We’re preparing like we do against any other team,” first-year head coach Matt Fritsche said.

Fritsche, who coached with Creighton Uni­versity four four years before coming to Hillsdale, has had to game plan for perennial pow­er­house Uni­versity of Con­necticut in the Division I women’s bas­ketball national tour­nament in the past.

Ashland (31 – 0, 20 – 0 GLIAC) enters Friday’s matchup riding a 68-game win streak, the sixth-longest in NCAA Division II women’s bas­ketball history. The Eagles also begin the weekend as the defending cham­pions of the NCAA Division II women’s bas­ketball tour­nament.

A tall task for the Chargers, indeed.

Hillsdale (19 – 10, 14 – 8 G-MAC), also enters the field of 64 hot, having won 12 of 17 since the New Year and six of its last seven.

While Fritsche didn’t point to any glaring weak­nesses for Ashland, he said his team could create some matchup problems for the Eagles.

“I think they’re going to have a hard time guarding our point guards,” Fritsche said. They could poten­tially have a hard time guarding our for­wards. And then, [senior center Allie] Dittmer’s a load.” 

And of course, the Chargers enter the tour­nament as the No. 2 team by rebounding margin in all of NCAA Division II, out-rebounding oppo­nents by an average of 12.6 rebounds per game.

Hillsdale, a No. 8 seed in the Midwest Regional, has four players who average between 12.4 and 14.1 points per game in junior forward Makenna Ott, Dittmer, junior forward Brittany Gray, and junior guard Allie Dewire.

Gray won the G-MAC’s final Player of the Week award last week for her efforts in the con­ference tour­nament. She nailed six three-pointers in the cham­pi­onship game against Findlay en route to a team-high 22 points.

Fritsche said that if Gray and Ott, the team’s two leading three-point shooters, catch fire, the Chargers could make for an even tougher opponent for Ashland.

“We’re appre­ciative of our last week and we’re con­fident in how we play,” Fritsche said. “We’re going to try to be cre­ative with some game-plan stuff and throw some dif­ferent things at them and see what sticks.” 

  • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

    The Ladies battled # 1 rated Ashland very hard, but we’re defeated in the end. Still, a very good season.