December 6, 2012 - Less than two weeks ago, Hillsdale College women's basketball coach Claudette Charney won her 500th career game. Thursday night, men's basketball coach John Tharp also reached an impressive milestone.
Tharp won his 300th game during his head coaching career as he guided the Chargers to a 70-44 victory over Northern Michigan University at the Berry Events Center in Marquette, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The win keeps Hillsdale perfect on the season at 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the GLIAC. Saturday, Hillsdale faces one of its toughest tests of the season, taking on Michigan Tech University in Houghton starting at 1:00.
Tharp began his coaching career at Lawrence University, a Division III school in Wisconsin, and racked up more than 200 wins while making the Vikings a nationally known program at that level. Thursday's win was his 96th for the Chargers, and he's taken the team from a .500 record in his first year to back-to-back 20-win campaigns and the 2011-12 GLIAC regular season championship.
Many of the qualities Tharp has instilled in the Hillsdale College program were on display in Thursday's win over the Wildcats. The Chargers operated efficiently on offense and got off to great starts in both halves.
Hillsdale drained six of its first eight shots from behind the 3-point line, and raced out to a 24-6 lead in the first 10 minutes of the game. Northern Michigan clawed back into the game, and cut the lead down to seven by halftime, 31-24. Hillsdale hit seven 3-point baskets, but didn't attempt a single free throw in the game's first 20 minutes. But a second half start that was similar to the first would remove all doubt from this one.
Hillsdale outscored Northern Michigan 21-7 in the first eight minutes of the second half to extend the lead out to 20, a margin that wouldn't get any smaller the rest of the way.
Four players scored in double figures for the Chargers, another staple of Tharp's teams in recent years. Forward Tim Dezelski and center Nick Washburn each scored 17, with Washburn's total representing a season-high. Dezelski had scored in double figures in all six games during the season and was 7-for-8 shooting versus the Wildcats.
Junior Brandon Pritzl had 15 points, while junior Tony Nelson came off the bench to provide 10 points for Hillsdale. The Chargers outrebounded the Wildcats 31-17 and shot 51 percent from the floor. Playing not far from his home state of Wisconsin, Pritzl had a fine all-around game with six assists and four steals for the winning team.
The Chargers also shot 11-for-19 from 3-point land for the game, making a season-best 58 percent of their shots from that spot on the court.
Photo courtesy of Calvin Larson