The Hillsdale College Chargers turned their four-game losing streak around in a big way with a pair of wins against Tiffin University and Cedarville University on Thursday and Saturday. In the two victories, senior guard Allie Dewire scored a combined 57 points, earning her the G-MAC Player of the Week award.
On Thursday, the Chargers defeated Tiffin, 90 – 72, to halt a four-game losing streak. Dewire scored a career-high 33 points, making nine of 11 shots from the floor and 15 of 18 free throws. She also grabbed 12 rebounds, tying a personal season-high. The performance was her third double-double of the season.
“We had really good ball and player movement, so that made it easy for me to attack a lane after my team had already helped break down the defense,” Dewire said. “I also tried to maintain a more aggressive mentality while letting the game come to me.”
Dewire got to the free throw line over and over again thanks to her willingness to drive into traffic and draw contact on her shots.
“She was assertive and played downhill really well,” head coach Matt Fritsche said. “There wasn’t any kind of lateral play in her.”
The Chargers, plagued by slow starts during the recent stretch of losses, jumped out to a 31 – 15 lead by the end of the first quarter. As a team, Hillsdale shot 62.1 percent from the floor and made seven of nine threes in the first half.
“I thought we got really quality looks because they moved themselves and the ball so well,” Fritsche said.
Tiffin’s only lead of the night was 3 – 2, and it vanished just 52 seconds into the game. From there, the Chargers took the lead, built on it, and didn’t look back. Hillsdale led by more than 10 points during the final 32 minutes of regulation.
Senior forward Makenna Ott added 16 points, and senior forward Brittany Gray and freshman guard Lauren Daffenberg each scored 11 in the win.
On Saturday, Cedarville visited Dawn Tibbetts Potter Arena for the first time this season. The Yellow Jackets began the day five games ahead of Hillsdale in the G-MAC conference standings as one of the conference’s best teams. They left Hillsdale just four games ahead of the Chargers, thanks in large part to more of the same from Dewire.
“We all decided that we could be a better team than Cedarville,” Dewire said. “We keep talking about all the things that go into getting a big win, and we finally strung enough of those things together to do it.”
Dewire scored 24 points in a 72 – 66 win, making seven of 11 shots from the floor and 10 of 12 free throws.
“She doesn’t do anything half-speed,” Fritsche said. “She guards hard, she plays downhill, she goes to the glass hard, and she’s typically stronger than the person she’s playing against, which always helps.”
The Chargers again benefitted from a hot start, outscoring Cedarville 21 – 10 in the first quarter. Once the Yellow Jackets switched from a man-to-man scheme to a zone defense, Hillsdale’s scoring success slowed down a bit.
“We didn’t anticipate them playing that much zone,” Fritsche said. “They played zone and gave us threes and we missed them. Once we got comfortable scoring against their zone in the second half, it wasn’t bad.”
The Chargers’ defense played well the entire afternoon, but the Yellow Jackets held a 48 – 45 lead entering the fourth quarter. That’s when Hillsdale’s offense came back alive, and the Chargers outscored Cedarville 27 – 18 in the final quarter to seal the victory.
“We guarded really well the whole day,” Fritsche said. “I hope they’re understanding how good they can be defensively when they’re that focused.”
Gray scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds, while Ott scored 11 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Gray is now 11th in the G-MAC in points per game with 13, while Ott is 14th with 12.5. After averaging 28.5 points per game in the last two wins, Dewire is fourth in the conference with 14.8 points per game.
The win against Cedarville is Hillsdale’s first this season against a team ahead of them in the G-MAC standings.
“Those kinds of wins make you believe there’s no reason you can’t compete with any other team in the league,” Dewire said. “It’s nothing to get a big head over, but those are solid wins that we can lean on to believe in ourselves; that we can be the team with more points at the end of the game.”
The Chargers will have more opportunities to knock off higher-ranked teams than themselves, beginning on Saturday when they host the University of Findlay. Hillsdale lost to Findlay on the road just three weeks ago, 69 – 64, on Jan. 19.
Fritsche said the team’s two wins last week were a result of a process of hard work and dedication to improvement from his players, but finally seeing the final score in their favor will add even more to their confidence.
“The confidence they have right now should be derived from the work, the time, and the repetition they’ve put in the last two weeks, and the focus they’ve had,” Fritsche said. “They’re seeing a return on their investment right now.”
Saturday’s tip-off against Findlay is at 1 p.m.