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

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.