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.”