February 23, 2013 - One of the most frustrating losses of this season for the Hillsdale College men's basketball team came at the hands of GLIAC newcomer Walsh University last month. Saturday, the Chargers returned the favor.
Hillsdale finished the game on an 18-6 run to defeat the Cavaliers 76-68 in Canton, Ohio. The win clinches - at worst - the No. 6 seed in the upcoming GLIAC Tournament and improves the team to 17-8 overall adn 13-8 in the conference. The Chargers wrap up the regular season Saturday, March 2 at the University of Findlay.
For the fourth game in a row, the Chargers found themselves in a game that was tied with less than seven minutes to play. In losses to Ashland and Malone, Hillsdale was unable to come up with enough plays to secure wins. But that was not the case in a tough environment at Walsh, as Hillsdale answered the bell at crunch time.
Walsh led an exciting, momentum-swing filled game 62-58 with 5:17 left in the second half. That's when junior Anthony Manno stepped forward.
Manno hit 3-point field goals on back-to-back possessions to quickly push the Chargers in front, 64-62. The game would be re-tied at 66-66, but Manno clearly swung the momentum in Hillsdale's favor by that point. All 11 of Manno's points came in the second half.
It was then Cody Smith's turn to make big shots. He swished a jumper while being fouled. The subsequent free throw went down, giving Hillsdale the lead for good, 69-66, with 1:58 to play. Hillsdale went on to make 6 of 7 free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
The Chargers led 36-30 at halftime, but the Cavaliers came out on fire in the second half, making five straight field goals and four straight free throws on their first seven possessions of the second half to flip a six-point deficit into a four-point lead. But with each big shot Walsh sent Hillsdale's way, the Chargers were able to answer. After that half-opening 14-4 run by Walsh, Hillsdale struck back with a 6-0 run of its own to retake the lead.
In those final minutes, Walsh cooled off considerably, missing its last six shots from the floor. The team was only able to grab one offensive rebound in that drought, a key part of the Chargers holding the Cavaliers at bay.
Hillsdale shot 22-for-25 from the free throw line (88 percent), its highest mark of the season. The Chargers also held Walsh to 6-for-20 shooting from behind the 3-point stripe.
Senior center Nick Washburn powered his way to 17 points, 10 rebounds and two blocked shots for Hillsdale. Smith added a career-high 14 points for the Chargers, while Tim Dezelski had 12 points and Brandon Pritzl 11. This was Smith's first double-figure scoring game since Dec. 1.
Photo courtesy of Rob Washburn