February 14, 2013 – It was a tale of two halves on a Valentine's Night GLIAC matchup between GLIAC South Division foes Hillsdale College and Lake Erie College Thursday night.
The upstart Storm had a torrid shooting first half, and led by as many as 11 points early in the second half. But the Chargers bounced back thanks to several players stepping up at big times to pull away with a 77-70 win in men's basketball at Jesse Philips Arena. The Chargers are now 16-6 overall and 12-6 in the GLIAC, and will host Ashland University for Senior Day at 1 p.m. Saturday.
The Storm started the game making nearly every shot they threw up, making 8 of their first 12 shots from 3-point land. But that rate could not hold up, as Hillsdale played more intense defense as the game wore on, and made it harder for Lake Erie to get those shots off. The Storm went on to miss nine of their last 11 3-point shots.
During that stretch, different Chargers stepped to the fore, starting with junior guard Darius Ware. He did much more than just score a career-high 14 points. He threw down two slam dunks that clearly changed the momentum of the game and energized the home team and home crowd.
His first dunk came on a one-on-one fast break that cut the Storm's lead to 46-40. He then powered home a perfectly designed and executed alley-oop dunk from senior Ryan Choiniere that kept the Hillsdale run going. After Ware's first dunk, the Chargers went on a 17-6 run that pulled them into a 57-52 lead in just five minutes.
Over the game's last 10 minutes, the teams were tied three times, and neither team had more than a one possession lead until a 3-pointer by Cody Smith put Hillsdale up six, 71-65, with 2:06 to play.
The shot was one of many big plays Smith made down the stretch for Hillsdale. After missing his first four shots, Smith answered the bell in crunch time, scoring all nine of his points – on three 3-point field goals – and had a steal in the last two minutes. His big shots helped keep the Chargers a comfortable distance ahead of the Storm.
Playing big throughout the game – as he usually does – was junior forward Tim Dezelski, who finished with 20 points, eight rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocked shots in 38 superb minutes on the court. He only needed 10 shots to register his 20 points, and he only committed one foul against Lake Erie's assortment of athletic frontcourt players.
Senior center Nick Washburn, who was honored before the game for scoring his 1,000th career point, added 13 points and six rebounds while junior Brandon Pritzl poured in 14 and had three rebounds. Ware also had a career-high five assists to go along with his best scoring game.