Davis Larson shoots the ball in an earlier game against Findlay. (S. Nathaniel Grime | Courtesy)

The Hillsdale College Chargers stayed home last week for a suc­cessful series against Ken­tucky Wes­leyan College and Trevecca Nazarene Uni­versity. They beat their oppo­nents a com­bined 147 – 116. With these two con­ference wins, Hillsdale remains at the top of the G‑MAC rankings, tied with Findlay for first. 

Four Chargers scored in double digits during Thursday’s 72 – 60 victory against Ken­tucky Wes­leyan, including freshman forward Tavon Brown who came off the bench to put up 11 points and snag six rebounds.

Freshman forward Pat Cartier and senior guard Dylan Lowry each added 16 points, and junior forward Austen Yarian added 12. 

The Chargers only had a one-point lead with nine minutes to go in the first half, but after a layup by junior forward Davis Larson sparked a 20 – 9 scoring run, Hillsdale led 33 – 21 at the buzzer. That halftime lead is what gave Hillsdale the win, as both teams scored 39 points in the second half. 

“Offen­sively we just keep playing together and we try to score by com­mittee,” junior guard Connor Hill said. “Whoever has it going on that day, that’s who we go to. Like on Thursday, our bigs had eight threes, so we went to our bigs.” 

Yarian was one of the guys to see much of his success at the three-point line, as shot 4 – 5 from beyond the arc on Thursday to score all 12 of his points. 

Against Trevecca Nazarene, the Chargers trumped the Trojans 75 – 56 four more double-digit per­for­mances. Leading the offense was Larson with 18 points. Cartier added in 16 more with four rebounds. 

Hill brought great energy to both ends of the court as he started the first half with a three-pointer and on the next pos­session, he got a steal which he con­verted for a layup. By then 10-minute mark he racked up 10 points, outscoring the Trojans himself as they only had nine.

The Trojans started to come back toward the end of the first half, cutting a 19-point deficit to nine. Hillsdale responded, however, with a 7 – 0 run to start the second half. The Chargers went on to finish the game 75 – 56. 

The Chargers main­tained a healthy assist-to-turnover ratio last week, which are two stats the team credits for its success as they strive to get everyone on the court involved while staying dis­ci­plined with the ball. They passed the ball around for 16 assists against Ken­tucky Wes­leyan and 15 against Trevecca, while keeping their turnovers to a com­bined 16. 

Lowry, who had six of the team’s assists against Ken­tucky Wes­leyan, credits the coaching staff for setting him and his team up for success.

“We try to get the ball inside whether it’s from close feeds to the bigs or guards attacking the rims,” he said. “We’re at our best when we have mul­tiple guys in double figures. We’re always trying to get as many guys as pos­sible involved, and our coaches do a good job of getting us simple looks for good assists.” 

The Chargers are aver­aging 14.9 assists per game, and 6.25 steals per game against con­ference oppo­nents. Hill said the team will con­tinue to rely on its defense and smooth-flowing offense through the remainder of the season. 

“Our defense has been pretty cohesive,” he said. “If someone’s been beat, the next guy’s there, our defen­sivel has always been what we hang our hats on. And now we’ve got four bigs who can really score and can help our offense flow a lot better.” 

As the team approaches this week’s road games against Walsh College and Malone Uni­versity, Lowry calls it an “exciting challenge.”

“We’re coming off a good week and for us, we’re excited to get some revenge as they ended our season last year,” he said. 

Last year, Hillsdale lost to Walsh in the G‑MAC Tour­nament semi-final game, 65 – 59. The Cav­a­liers lead the con­ference with a 16 – 2 record, but due to their strength of schedule so far this season, they find them­selves ranked fourth in the G‑MAC. 

“Last year once we lost we were kinda like, ‘Now what?’ but with this team if we get down early or lose a game we don’t dwell on that as much,” Hill said. “We know what we have to do every night and we try to produce that. It’s not so much like a roller­coaster like last year. We just always play hard.”

On Jan. 25, the Chargers will travel to Malone Uni­versity for a 3 o’clock tipoff. The Pio­neers have a 5 – 3 con­ference record and rank seventh.