The Hillsdale College women’s basketball team began its conference-only season on Dec. 3 against the University of Findlay. Since then the Chargers have accrued a 1 – 6 record with a 10-point victory over Lake Erie College on Jan. 4.
While their schedule is ever-changing, the Chargers have faced off against more than half of their G‑MAC opponents. With 15 games left to go in the regular season, Hillsdale will sometimes play three times in one week in order to fit the rest of the games in before the conference tournament begins on March 2.
Most recently, the Chargers fell to Walsh University, 63 – 54, which was much improved compared to the 92 – 57 loss Hillsdale suffered earlier in the season. Head coach Charlie Averkamp attributes some of the early struggle to a lack of scrimmages and preseason, but said he’s proud of the team’s growth.
“Walsh was the reigning conference champions and we had to go down there very early. At the start of that game they attacked us early and knew they were going to beat us right away,” Averkamp said. “After that we talked about how important it’s going to be when they came back here that we have to start and come out ready to play because if we can play with them in the first 10 minutes, then they’re going to know they’re in for a fight.”
Walsh still got out with a 7 – 0 lead during the home game on Jan. 8, but the Chargers bounced back, never letting the lead grow beyond those seven points for much of the game.
“We weren’t scared and were confident, tough, and executed our game plan perfectly,” Averkamp said. “They hit a couple more shots at the end but I couldn’t be more proud of how we battled.”
Junior guard Lauren Daffenberg said the team needs to work on its communication to limit opponents’ scoring runs, such as in the Walsh game.
“I feel like every game we’ve just been so close. Like just a couple minutes where they went on a run and if we get rid of that then we’re right there,” Daffenberg said. “If one thing goes wrong then we’re all really silent or cower into ourselves, and it needs to be the opposite. We need to pop right back and still talk and stay tough, stuff like that.”
Daffenberg and fellow junior Grace Touchette continue to offer consistent shooting, averaging 10.4 and 14.3 points per game, respectively. And senior guard Jaycie Burger is proving her leadership this season. She’s averaging 36 minutes and 11.4 points per game.
“In the last five weeks we’ve had a lot of time to practice and work on our offense and our defense together and get closer,” Burger said. “It’s been a good five weeks. We’ve been working hard and we’re giving teams a lot of challenges. Now we just need to step up and start to get some wins.”
She said she feels the team is in a good position to do that, especially this Thursday against top-conference opponent, Cedarville University.
“I think we’re putting a lot of pressure on teams. We’re the underdog a lot but I can feel we’re moving closer and closer and we’ll be taking that next step,” Burger said. “I’m excited to play them. I feel like we match up really well with them so it will be a good opportunity.”
The Chargers will travel to Cedarville, Ohio, to take on the Yellowjackets on Jan. 14. Tip-off is at 5 p.m. The livestream for the event can be found on Hillsdale’s athletics website.