The Hillsdale College Chargers dove into conference play over Christmas break, as they went 5 – 1 against G‑MAC opponents. The team now sits at a 9 – 6 overall record.
In the conference rankings, Hillsdale is in a three-way tie with the University of Findlay and Walsh University, as each team boasts a 5 – 1 conference record. Walsh, with its 14 – 2 overall record, however, sits at the top, and Findlay stands at 10 – 5. Kentucky Wesleyan University, who Hillsdale will play this week, sits in fourth.
The Chargers got things started during the break with a statement win on the road over Alderson Broaddus on Dec. 5. Hillsdale took an early 7 – 0 lead en route to a 91 – 68 victory. Four Chargers put up double digits in scoring, while junior forward Austen Yarian and freshman forward Pat Cartier led the team in rebounding, each snagging five.
On their way back to Hillsdale, the Chargers stopped at Ohio Valley University on Dec. 7 to take on the Fighting Scots in a close contest. Hillsdale held its biggest lead of 10 points in the beginning of the second half, but eight different lead changes and four ties throughout the game kept things interesting.
With 12 seconds remaining, the Chargers led 68 – 65. Free throws by senior guards Dylan Lowry and Davis Larson in the game’s final seconds put the Chargers ahead 71 – 65, creating a large enough gap to stop any kind of comeback by the Fighting Scots. They went on to win 71 – 70.
A week later, the Chargers were home with plenty of time to prepare for G‑MAC rival, the University of Findlay Oilers. On Dec. 14, the Oilers came to town to face a 77 – 65 defeat by the Chargers.
Cartier put up his first double-double in his college career during this game, earning himself the G‑MAC Men’s Basketball Athlete of the Week. He scored 24 points, shooting 10 – 13 and 2 – 2 beyond the arc, and still snagged 10 rebounds.
“The Findlay game was awesome to get a win at home against our rivals. My teammates did an awesome job getting me easy looks,” Cartier said. “G‑MAC Player of the Week was pretty cool and was a great representation of our team success thus far this season. We played a great game and I was fortunate to receive the award.”
With 36 rebounds, 19 assists, and six steals, the Chargers outplayed Findlay in every category. Junior guard Connor Hill dished out seven assists and scored 14 points, while Lowry and Larson each added 10 and 14 points, respectively.
The Chargers took a break from conference play to face Lewis University in Chicago on Dec 17. It was a narrow 68 – 65 loss for Hillsdale, despite a career-high 26-point game from Lowry.
“The Lewis game was a tough loss for us,” Lowry said. “As for my career-high goes, it really is all about my teammates setting great screens for me and the coaching staff putting me in comfortable positons to score.”
They continued their non-conference road trip as the Chargers headed to Northern Michigan University. There they earned another win for their record book, 70 – 52.
An early lead created momentum for the Chargers. Larson and Cartier each put up 15 points, while Yarian added 11. Hillsdale outrebounded Northern Michigan by one, and managed to total 16 assists, which are both key goals for the Chargers’ success.
Returning home and to conference play, the Chargers took on the Tiffin University Dragons. A strong finish to the first half gave Hillsdale a comfortable 16-point margin to close the game with a 95 – 71 win. Yarian led the team’s efforts with an impressive double-double performance with 17 points and 13 rebounds.
On Saturday, however, Ohio Dominican University handed Hillsdale its first conference loss of the season, 77 – 64. Ohio Domican University got off to a strong start, finishing the first half with a 19-point lead, 50 – 31. The Chargers outscored the Panthers 33 – 27 in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the game’s early deficit.
Yarian led the Chargers’ efforts for Saturdays’ game as he scored 15 points and snagged seven rebounds.
The Chargers will compete at home this week as they take on Kentucky Wesleyan University on Thursday and Trevecca Nazarene University on Saturday.
“Kentucky Wesleyan and Trevecca are two teams who score a lot of their points from behind the three-point line, so defensively that’s where it’ll start for us,” Lowry said. “They are both solid defensively so for us it’s all about not turning the ball over and getting everyone involved because we’re at our best when a variety of guys score the ball.”
Thursday’s tip-off is at 7 p.m., while Saturday’s game begins at 3 p.m. in the Dawn Tibbetts Potter Arena.