The Hillsdale College Chargers have won six con­sec­utive games and are tied for first place in the G‑MAC. (S. Nathaniel Grime | Col­legian)

Since the start of the new year, the Hillsdale College Chargers have won six of their last seven games and joined the Uni­versity of Findlay in the no. 1 spot in the G‑MAC rankings. Last weekend’s wins on the road against Ken­tucky Wes­leyan College and Trevecca Nazarene Uni­versity put the Chargers at 14 – 5 overall, and 10 – 2 in the G‑MAC.

“We set really high expec­ta­tions for our­selves this year,” junior guard Dylan Lowry said. “The year didn’t really start out as expected. We had some unex­pected injuries. This isn’t like a sur­prise or any­thing, but we aren’t sat­isfied where we’re at right now.”

The Chargers took an early command of the game against Ken­tucky Wes­leyan, leading by 11 at the half. With just under 10 minutes to go in reg­u­lation, the Pan­thers crept within four points, cutting Hillsdale’s lead to 35 – 31. But a 17 – 4 scoring run by the Chargers in the next six minutes sealed the victory in a 57 – 47 win.

Lowry led the Chargers with 14 points, and had four rebounds. Senior forward Gordon Behr snagged seven rebounds while adding an assist and a steal.

Hillsdale put up higher numbers in every sta­tis­tical cat­egory against Ken­tucky Wes­leyan, including turnovers; however, the Chargers were more effi­cient, as they scored 16 points off the Pan­thers’ 12 turnovers.

“It’s always tough to play on the road, espe­cially when it’s such a long trip,” senior guard Nate Neveau said. “I think we realized to beat any team we have to play well. We aren’t a team that can just show up and win. I was pretty happy with the overall mindset we had going into the game.”

Against Trevecca Nazarene, the Chargers played an aggressive first half, putting them­selves up by 10 points in the first five minutes. By halftime, they led 34 – 22.

With six minutes to go, the Trojans trailed by only seven points. Lowry then sank a three-pointer and on the next pos­session, he added another point at the free throw line to put the Chargers ahead by 10.

In the last 30 seconds of the game, junior guard Connor Hill went 4 – 4 from the free throw line. The Chargers won 79 – 56.

Head coach John Tharp credits both of last week’s wins to his team’s defense.

“The week of, we talked about them being really dis­ci­plined with our game plan; paying attention to details and being as tough as we pos­sibly can,” Tharp said. “With a long road trip, we thought those were the things that were incredibly important. From an X and O stand­point, we thought the only way those two teams would be able to beat us was if they made a lot of threes. We did an excellent  job of guarding around the arc.”

Senior guard Har­rison Niego and sophomore forward Davis Larson scored 20 and 13 points, respec­tively. Senior center Nick Czarnowski not only scored 11 points, but had seven rebounds, two assists, two blocks, and one steal in an all-around per­for­mance. His shooting per­centage — 71 percent — was the highest of the season.

Hillsdale will host its next two games. The Chargers will take on the Tiffin Uni­versity Dragons (7 – 13, 3 – 9 G‑MAC) tonight at 7:30 p.m. On Sat­urday at 3 p.m. the Chargers play the Cedarville Uni­versity Yellow Jackets (12 – 8, 9 – 3 G‑MAC).

“I think we’re really starting to get to a point where we have all our pieces — most of our pieces,” Neveau said. “We’re starting to learn how to play together and that gives us con­fi­dence because we know we’re getting better. But we know they’re a good team and we’ll have to play well to beat them.”

Cedarville is in third place in the con­ference standings. Hillsdale beat Cedarville on Nov. 29, but Cedarville beat Findlay, who is cur­rently tied for first with the Chargers.

“We’re just trying our hardest to take it one game at a time right now, not looking past any one team,” Lowry said. “We’ve seen that anyone can beat anyone. We’re con­fident, but not over­con­fident.”