February 21, 2013 – The final home game of the 2012-13 season is one the Hillsdale College men's basketball team would just as soon forget.
The Chargers lost a three-point lead with less than 40 seconds to play in a 61-59 loss to Malone University Thursday night at Jesse Philips Arena. The defeat drops Hillsdale to 16-8 overall and 12-8 in the GLIAC. The team will wrap up the regular season with two road games over the next two Saturdays, at Walsh Feb. 23 and at Findlay March 2.
In a game that saw 14 lead changes and seven ties, it seemed only appropriate that the game be tied, 56-56 with less than two minutes to play. Junior Anthony Manno then hit a huge 3-point shot from the left corner that gave the Chargers a 59-56 lead. Hillsdale then forced a Malone stop and it had possession of the ball, up three, with less than a minute to go. That's when it all unraveled for the Chargers.
The Pioneers made a layup to cut the lead to one, 59-58, with 34 seconds to go. But heavy backcourt pressure by Malone resulted in a turnover near midcourt, leading to an uncontested layup, with 21 seconds to play, putting Malone into the lead at 60-59. The Pioneers were able to thwart two shots near the rim by the Chargers and made one last free throw with 1.8 seconds left to seal the win.
Despite the loss, Hillsdale's chances of making the GLIAC tournament were not damaged. Walsh and Malone are ineligible for conference postseason play in their first year in the GLIAC, and Hillsdale has a three-game lead on Ashland with two left to play in the race for second place in the GLIAC South Division. The top two teams from the South are guaranteed a postseason spot, meaning Hillsdale should be qualified for the postseason tournament, even with this loss.
Thursday's game featured a total of just 14 free throws between the two teams. Many other statistics in this game were virtually even, and neither team had a lead of more than six points.
Junior forward Tim Dezelski led the Chargers in scoring with 13, to go along with eight rebounds, five assists, one steal, one block and no turnovers in 28 minutes. Junior guard Brandon Pritzl added 11 while senior center Nick Washburn had 10 points and four blocked shots.
Washburn moved into sixth place on Hillsdale's career blocked shots list with his fine defensive performance Thursday night.