The Hillsdale College Chargers began the regular season on their home court last weekend, and lost two non-conference games.
On Saturday, the Chargers fell to the University of Indianapolis Greyhounds 69 – 67 after the Greyhounds sunk a pair of game-winning free throws with 2.9 seconds remaining. On Sunday, Hillsdale fell behind early against the Lewis University Flyers and never led in a 77 – 55 loss.
“We didn’t make shots. We have to kind of bounce back and find ourselves fundamentally a little bit,” head coach Matt Fritsche said. “We’re gonna work on a lot of breakdown stuff for the next few days. It’s just going to be about us and hammering home some details.”
The Chargers shot 40.3 percent from the floor against Indianapolis and just 32.8 percent against Lewis. Hillsdale relied heavily on three-point shooting, taking 28 and 31 attempts in the two games.
Fritsche also said the team’s communication on the court was lacking, and traced it back to ineffective coaching during practice.
“To an extent, what we permit we promote. We need to ask them to talk more in practice,” Fritsche said. “We end up with the wrong matchups in defensive transitions or we end up with the wrong reads on screens and we end up with mistakes being made because we haven’t talked through it thoroughly on the floor.”
Against Indianapolis, the Chargers led by as many as six early in the second quarter. The game featured eight lead changes in total. Fritsche said he isn’t worried about his team’s ability to bounce back from an early-season setback.
“I’m not concerned about their willingness to learn and improve,” Fritsche said. “I think they all wanna be really good and they wanna be way better than we were this weekend.”
Senior forward Makenna Ott led the Chargers with 19 points against the Greyhounds and 12 points against the Flyers. She’s now just two points away from 1,000 in her collegiate career.
“I’m really excited to be able to do that, score that 1000th point, but also to be able to win and have a good game, and just improve as a team,” Ott said.
Senior guard Allie Dewire scored 15 points on Saturday, but played only two minutes on Sunday before exiting because of an unusual injury. Dewire collided with junior center Julia Wacker and had to sit out the rest of the game to tend to the bleeding from her head.
“Allie brings a level of toughness and athleticism, and she’s a good communicator,” Fritsche said. “Anytime Allie’s not at the floor, we’re a noticeably different team.”
Freshman guard Grace Touchette stepped up to run the point position, and grabbed five rebounds while dishing out two assists. Sophomore guard Jaycie Burger also helped fill the void, and scored eight points.
Freshman guard Lauren Daffenberg scored nine points on Saturday and seven points on Sunday, and made four of nine three-pointers. She said that while she didn’t have many nerves in her first collegiate action, she’s looking forward to the team having more time to work as a unit.
“We just need to keep playing with each other,” Daffenberg said. “The communication issues we had in the two games — we do very well in practice, so it’s just about transferring our practice to the game.”
Ott agreed, and said the team has early adversity to learn from and build on as the season unfolds.
“Our expectations haven’t changed because of this weekend. Our main goal is to always peak at the end of the season just like we did last year,” Ott said. “It might even be beneficial for us in the long run, because if we hadn’t lost these games, we wouldn’t point out the exact things that we need to work on and what we need to do to get better.”
The Chargers have a week off before their next game on Monday, when Ferris State University visits Hillsdale for a 6 p.m. tip-off.
“We didn’t want to start off 0 – 2, but it’s better to realize that we need to peak in March and not now,” Daffenberg said. “We realize how far we have to go in order to get to that peak. We’re just realizing that we started off a little bit lower than what we expected.”