Basketball season is officially underway. The Hillsdale Chargers traveled to Division I Oakland University to take on the Golden Grizzlies in an exhibition game. Although Hillsdale trailed by only two with less than a minute left, the Grizzlies still overcame with a 67 – 61 victory.
The Chargers had 11 steals, contributing to Oakland’s 25 turnovers, but had 18 turnovers of their own.
“We did a nice job of turning them over,” head coach John Tharp said. “We felt like we turned the ball over too much ourselves. Our goal is to limit ourselves to 10 turnovers per game. It was both team’s first time in competition against someone else with officials, and there were times during the game you could tell we’d only had seven days of practice.”
Senior guard Harrison Niego said the Chargers had great chemistry.
“We have a unique group of guys that enjoy being around each other on and off the court,” Niego said. “We had pretty good defense against Oakland.”
Sophomore forward Davis Larson had two steals and hit a three-pointer of the game, providing the Chargers with a 3 – 0 lead.
“It felt awesome to be back on the court with the team competing against an opponent like Oakland,” Larson said. “Our team is full of players returning from the previous year, so our chemistry is already off to a good start.”
Junior guard Dylan Lowry and senior center Nick Czarnowski led the Chargers in scoring with 16 points each. By the end of the first half, the Chargers trailed 30 – 25.
“We were really pleased with Dylan Lowry and Connor Hill who came off the bench,” Tharp said. “They both gave us good minutes.
The second half started off slow with several turnovers and missed shots on both ends of the court. About a minute and a half later, senior guard Nate Neveau got the steal and the Chargers converted it into two points in a team effort of Larson and Czarnowski. This play cut the Grizzlies’ lead to three.
Back to back layups brought the Chargers within two points, 39 – 37 with 13:06 left in the game. But the Grizzlies answered with a 3‑pointer, a free throw and a layup, extending their lead back to eight.
“I thought we really competed. Our guys competed for the entire 40 minutes,” Tharp said. “We were down seven or nine with six or seven minutes left to go. It was one of those points where I thought we’d either break or we’d run back at ‘em.”
The Chargers chose the latter.
As the game clock wound down to five minutes, Hillsdale began chipping away at the deficit. First with a layup by sophomore forward Trenton Richardson, followed by a steal by senior forward Gordon Behr, passing to Larson for two points. Larson drew the foul, sank the free throw, the score now 57 – 53 with 3:34 remaining.
Two more free throws by Czarnowski, a Grizzly layup, and a jumper by Larson left the clock with 1:34 remaining and a score of 59 – 57.
However, the Chargers were unable to close the gap completely. Oakland went on a 8 – 4 run to close the game, resulting in a 67 – 61 loss for Hillsdale.
The Chargers will travel to Ohio for another exhibition game against the Toledo Rockets on Nov. 3. Tip-off is at 2:30 p.m.
“Team improvements is one of my personal goals,” Niego said. “We want to give up less points and have less turnovers.”