The Hillsdale College Chargers extended their season-best winning streak to seven games and clinched a berth in the upcoming G-MAC tournament with a pair of wins on the road last week. Hillsdale’s last four wins have all come on the road, and were its final road games of the regular season.
On Thursday, the Chargers defeated winless Ohio Valley University, 74 – 57. The Fighting Scots never led, and despite shooting just 31.9 percent from the floor, the Chargers had the game in hand from beginning to end.
“It’s kind of exciting to know we can win by that much and still not shoot great,” senior forward Makenna Ott said. “Our offensive game is still not at its best. It’s exciting to know we haven’t reached our full potential yet.
Senior forward Brittany Gray surpassed 1,000 career points in her career with a team-leading 18 points in the win.
“It was pretty cool. I could hear the bench cheering and everything,” Gray said. “But honestly, the best part about it all is that my team cheers for me just as hard for any shot that I make. They’ve given me the shooting confidence that I have and the success in my career I’ve had.”
Gray joins Ott and senior guard Allie Dewire as the third Charger to accomplish that milestone this season.
“Watching Allie, Makenna, and Brittany all achieve it this year has been pretty special,” Fritsche said. “I don’t think anybody’s experience is ever perfect, but I hope those three have had a really good one. They mean a lot to us in a lot of facets, but more than anything, those are just three really good kids.”
The Chargers collected a single-game program-high 64 rebounds, doubling Ohio Valley’s 32. Junior guard Jaycie Burger led the way with 10 rebounds, and nine players collected at least four rebounds. Hillsdale leads the conference in total rebounds and rebounds per game this season. The Chargers also rank in the top 25 nationally in total rebounds, rebounds per game, and rebounding margin, among all NCAA Division II schools.
Ott followed Gray with 16 points, and freshman guard Grace Touchette added 10 points off the bench. Freshman forward Anna LoMonaco scored a career-high nine points, coming off the bench. Hillsdale’s bench scored 34 of its 74 total points .
“When someone makes a good play or we get a stop as a team, we’re a lot more excited for each other. We feed off of that energy,” Touchette said. “I think cheering on the bench and on the floor, it gives you a lot more energy.”
On Saturday, the Chargers defeated Ohio Dominican University, 76 – 51. The margin of victory was Hillsdale’s third-largest this season.
“We had almost a flawless defensive game,” Gray said. “Anything they tried, we saw it a mile ahead.”
Five players scored in double digits for Hillsdale, led by Ott, who scored 15 points, and Burger, who scored 12. Gray, Dewire, and freshman guard Lauren Daffenberg each scored 11 points.
Dewire added a team-leading 14 rebounds, six of which came from the offensive glass, for her fifth double-double of the season. The 14 rebounds were a single-game career high for Dewire. The Chargers again enjoyed a healthy rebounding margin overall, grabbing 56 boards to the Panthers’ 34, including 19 offensive rebounds to the Panthers’ five.
“We got first-shot rebounds and even when things weren’t going well for us offensively, we generated offensive rebounds,” Fritsche said. “We were able to transition into reversals and get started into our offense at a good pace.”
The Chargers got off to a hot start, outscoring the Panthers 20 – 6 in the first quarter. Ohio Dominican never led in the game, and Hillsdale’s lead grew up to 33 points near the end of the fourth quarter. The Chargers scored 30 of their 76 points in the third quarter alone.
Hillsdale hasn’t trailed an opponent for 97 consecutive minutes, spanning three games. The last time the Chargers weren’t ahead or tied in a game was early in the third quarter on Feb. 16 against Lake Erie College.
“When we play and practice like we have been, there’s no telling what we can do,” Fritsche said. “We have good teams in our league, but I wouldn’t want to play us right now.”
The eight teams in the G-MAC tournament are already decided, but the seeding from top to bottom is subject to change, depending on how the final three days of the regular season unfold. The top four teams in the conference will host first-round tournament games next week, and the semifinal and final rounds will be hosted by the highest-seeded team remaining.
Tonight, Hillsdale will try to finish the month of February a perfect 7 – 0 when it hosts Trevecca Nazarene University. Tip-off is at 5:30 p.m. The two teams’ first meeting of the season on Jan. 26 was the last time the Chargers suffered a loss, when they fell 69 – 62 in Nashville, Tennessee.
On Saturday, the Chargers host Kentucky Wesleyan College for Senior Day and their regular season finale. The Panthers defeated Hillsdale 71 – 70 on Jan. 24 in Owensboro. Kentucky Wesleyan holds a one-game lead over Cedarville University and Walsh University for first place in the conference.