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Brittany Gray shoots a three during the first half of Hills­dale’s win against Findlay on Sat­urday. Gray made four of five three-pointers and led the Chargers with 17 points. (S. Nathaniel Grime | Col­legian)

The Hillsdale College Chargers con­tinued their upward trend in the G‑MAC on Sat­urday with a resounding 88 – 67 victory over the Uni­versity of Findlay Oilers. The win evens the Chargers’ record at 11 – 11 overall, and 9 – 7 in the G‑MAC. The all-time series between Hillsdale and Findlay is now tied at 22 wins each.

The Chargers have won three games in a row, and have moved up to fifth place in the con­ference standings after sitting in ninth place just three weeks ago, when they lost to the Oilers in Findlay, 69 – 64. The last two teams the Chargers have beat — Cedarville Uni­versity and Findlay — have a com­bined record of 32 – 12 this season, and 24 – 9 against G‑MAC teams. Hillsdale has now handed each team a loss.

On Sat­urday, the Chargers shot better from outside the three-point line than inside, sinking 15 of 29 shots from beyond the arc.

“We find what’s available, and today that was available,” head coach Matt Fritsche said. “They were there, and they were quality looks. If we’re taking good shots, we’ll be fine with it.”

Senior forward Brittany Gray led the way, making four of five threes en route to a team-leading 17 points.

“In the first half, I thought we couldn’t miss,” Gray said. “Shooting is hit or miss — it depends on the night — but today, we just hit shots. It just shows the work we’re putting in.”

After a close first quarter, the Chargers outscored the Oilers in the second quarter 27 – 14 to build a 15-point lead by halftime. In the second quarter, Hillsdale was espe­cially lethal from downtown„ going seven for 11, a 63.6 shooting per­centage, from three-point range.

Freshman guard Lauren Daf­fenberg sunk a pair of threes in the win, made four free throws in four attempts, and scored 14 points in just 17 minutes coming off the bench.

“We knew hope­fully our three-point shot was going to be there,” Daf­fenberg said. “Because our movement was so good, we were able to get that much more open and make that many more shots.”

Despite being a reserve player, Daf­fenberg is second on the team in threes made this season (36), and has gone 35 for 39 from the free throw line, trans­lating to a team-best 89.7 free throw per­centage. She averages 9.4 points per game despite playing only 17.4 minutes per game, making her by far the team’s most effi­cient scorer.

The Chargers’ entire offense was running effi­ciently on Sat­urday, with 19 of its 30 made field goals coming off of assists. Three players — Daf­fenberg, senior guard Allie Dewire, and senior forward Makenna Ott — had four assists each.

“They did a good job of playing for each other and finding each other,” Fritsche said of his team’s offense and ball movement. “When we move the ball and move bodies like we did today, we look like a really tal­ented team.”

The Chargers turned the ball over only nine times, their first game with single-digit turnovers since Dec. 13.

“A huge part of it is trust,” Daf­fenberg said of the Chargers’ effective exe­cution. “Trusting our defense — espe­cially our help defense — and on offense, trusting every player. Our con­fi­dence has def­i­nitely been on the rise.”

Fritsche said that con­fi­dence has been a result of prepa­ration in practice and close attention to detail in scouting opposing teams’ styles of play.

“They’re super locked in and attentive to what we’re trying to get done,” Fritsche said of his team. “It’s made it easy to feel like they can win. I’ve been really proud of their effort in practice, and I think that gives them a little boost.”

Dewire scored 16 points — 11 in the second half — and Ott recorded her fourth double-double of the season with 13 points and 13 rebounds. The tandem of Gray, Ott, and Dewire each averages more than 12 points per game this season, a tes­tament to the team’s offensive balance and con­sis­tency.

Defen­sively, Hillsdale has held its oppo­nents to less than 70 points in eight of its last 11 games, despite going just 6 – 5 in that stretch. The upward defensive trend, however, paired with an even more explosive and dis­ci­plined offense, has been man­ifest in the recent upending of top-tier teams.

“I think we’re one of the most tal­ented teams in the G‑MAC. The way we’ve been prepping show­cases our talent — and we know what we can do,” Gray said. “Seeing this team finally come together the way I knew we were going to just gives me all the con­fi­dence in the world.”

Fritsche said that while he agrees the team is trending up and building con­fi­dence, to reach its peak, it will have to prove it can win games on the road.

The Chargers are just 2 – 5 on the road this season, but their oppor­tunity to buck that trend begins now. With six games remaining in the regular season, their next four games are all away from home.

“I hope the momentum from these home games and the con­fi­dence of knowing we can play well will transfer to playing on the road,” Daf­fenberg said. “We know what kind of focus has to go into preparing for a team on the road.”

First, the Chargers visit Ursuline College (8 – 14, 7 – 9 G‑MAC) in Pepper Pike, Ohio, tonight for a 5:30 tip-off. Hillsdale beat Ursuline at home on Dec. 18, 89 – 84. On Sat­urday, the Chargers travel to Painesville, Ohio, to take on Lake Erie College (11 – 10, 8 – 8). Hillsdale beat Lake Erie on Dec. 13, 85 – 61.

“It’s just gonna be about keeping that same prepa­ration that we have been and being con­fident playing on the road,” Gray said. “With the three-game win streak we have now, I think going on the road is going to be very helpful for us.”

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Nathan is a junior at Hillsdale College studying Rhetoric and Public Address and Journalism. He is Sports Editor and beat reporter for the Football, Women's Basketball, and Baseball teams for the Hillsdale Collegian. When he's not watching or writing about sports, Nathan enjoys playing organ and singing. Originally from St. Louis Missouri, Nathan now lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana. You can follow Nathan on twitter @nategrime or Hillsdale Collegian Sports at @HDaleSports.