There was an awful lot to like about the 66-49 win posted by the Hillsdale College men's basketball team Saturday afternoon.
The Chargers gained a big regional win by defeating previously undefeated Truman State University, now a member of the neighboring Great Lakes Valley Conference. After struggling on defense in back-to-back losses last week, Hillsdale clamped down on the Trojans, limiting them to 27 percent shooting from the field. And to top it all off, one of the team's captains joined an exclusive club.
Senior forward Tim Dezelski (pictured) became the 34th player in the 107-year history of men's basketball at the college to score at least 1,000 career points. He needed 17 coming into the game to join that list, but easily blew past that total with a game-high 31 points on 12-for-18 shooting from the field. He added 8 rebounds and 3 assists with no turnovers in 26 dominant minutes on the floor.
Even more impressive is the fact that Dezelski is the fifth Hillsdale Colleeg player in the past two years to join the 1,000-point club. In 2011-12, Brent Eaton, Tyler Gerber and Brad Guinane all hit that milestone, while Nick Washburn broke into four figures during his senior season of 2012-13.
Senior guard Brandon Pritzl had a big game for Hillsdale as well, although in somewhat unconventional fashion. The 6-foot-3 shooting guard grabbed a career and team season-high 16 rebounds to help lead Hillsdale on a 48-32 edge on the boards. Fifteen of Pritzl's rebounds came on the defensive end, a testament to his aggressiveness, as well as Hillsdale's strong team defense that forced Truman to miss 43 shots in the game.
Good starts in each half played a big part in the Charger win. The team opened the game on a 17-4 spurt that gave it a 13-point lead less than 7 minutes into the first half. Hillsdale then went ice cold, scoring just 4 points in an 8:18 span late in the half. However, the team was able to overcome that dry spell thanks to stingy team defense and good defensive rebounding. In that stretch, Truman only cut 5 points off Hillsdale's lead, and the Chargers limited the Trojans to just 2 offensive rebounds.
Hillsdale held a 27-22 lead at halftime, but blew it wide open with a 20-5 run in the first 6:43 of the second half, building the lead to 20. It was during this 20-5 run that Dezelski scored his 1,000th career point, and it came in typical Dezelski fashion, converting a 3-point play off a nice feed from sophomore Kyle Cooper. His free throw completing the 3-point play, was point number 1,000 of his distinguished career.
Cooper scored 12 points for the Chargers, who face holiday tournament host Quincy University Sunday afternoon.