The men’s bas­ketball team plays in the Blue-White Scrimmage on Nov. 17 (Courtesy | Hillsdale College Athletics)

The Hillsdale College men’s bas­ketball team crushed No. 8 Trevecca Nazarene Uni­versity in the quar­ter­finals matchup of the G‑MAC Cham­pi­onship tournament.

The win came just 48 hours after the Chargers closed out their best season of con­ference-play in the history of the program with a win over Cedarville University.

“There have been some excellent teams and some excellent players that have come before them, so it’s hard for me to compare what this team has done,” head coach John Tharp said. “With every­thing that’s hap­pened from a pan­demic stand­point, these kids have stepped up and responded to all the dif­ferent chal­lenges that we’ve faced.”

Saturday’s game was also senior night for the Chargers. The team honored grad­u­ating senior guards Connor Hill and Davis Larson with a pregame ceremony.

“We knew it wasn’t going to be the last home game, but espe­cially for me and Connor, we’ve been here for five years, which is a year longer than most stu­dents have in their college expe­rience, so I think that just makes it special,” Larson said. “Every­thing we’ve been through with coach Tharp and all the other guys, when you look back, it’s some­thing special, the Hillsdale program, there’s nothing like it.”

On Tuesday, the No. 1 Chargers used a dom­inant second half to crush No. 8 Trevecca at home, earning them a berth to the G‑MAC tour­nament semi­finals on Friday at 5 p.m. 

Trevecca didn’t let the Chargers roll over them without a fight. Hillsdale struggled in the first half, shooting only 37% from the field, and entered halftime with only a six point lead. 

“I wasn’t pleased with how we played in the first 20 minutes, I didn’t think that we played with the pace or intensity that we needed to,” Tharp said.

Last year, Hillsdale was in a similar No. 1 versus No. 8 matchup, but was upset by Ken­tucky Wes­leyan Uni­versity, a feat the Chargers did not want to repeat.

“Last year, we got upset by Ken­tucky Wes­leyan, they were a pretty good team, and they hit a bunch of shots against us,” Tharp said. “I think in that first half, Trevecca hit some tough shots on us late in the shot clock, and I think we kind of pan­icked for a quick second, but I think we really showed our dom­i­nance in the second half.”

The Chargers were dom­inant in the second half, shooting 75% from the field and 83% from three in the final frame. The team also dished out more team assists, grabbed more team rebounds, recorded more team steals, blocks, and fast break points than Trevecca. 

Cartier led the way for the Chargers, fol­lowing a first half where he shot 2 – 8 from the field with a 6 – 8, 16-point final frame.

“It’s been kind of a staple that we’re not last year’s team, that we’ve matured since then,” Cartier said. “It was a little bit of coach Tharp’s hype speech, and I also thought we were moving the ball a lot better.”

All in all, the Chargers beat Trevecca by 31 points, earning the right to host a semi­finals game against Malone Uni­versity on Friday. 

“They’re the leading offensive rebounding team in the league, and one of the leading scoring teams as well,” Tharp said. “They are great at tran­sition bas­ketball, they play fast, they run some great stuff for their kids, so we’ve got to keep them out of transition.” 

If the Chargers beat Malone on Friday, they will earn a spot in the con­ference tour­nament finals on Sat­urday, giving Hillsdale a chance to win the G‑MAC tour­nament for the first time in program history. 

“This team has really shown that they’ve been tough,” Tharp said. “The thing I really like about this team is that we’ve truly been a team.”