The Hillsdale College men's basketball team completed a perfect trip through the gauntlet of western Michigan with a 72-59 win over Ferris State University in Big Rapids Saturday afternoon.
The win was Hillsdale's fifth straight, and second straight over a team that had been undefeated in GLIAC play. The Chargers are 7-3 overall and 3-3 in conference play. The team will play six of its next seven at home, starting with a showdown against Wayne State Thursday night.
The Chargers never trailed, thanks to an 11-0 explosion to start the game, and a brilliant team defensive effort that saw them hold the Bulldogs 20 points under their scoring average for the season. Senior guard Derek Schell played a major role in getting the team off to its good start, draining three 3-point field goals. Those nine points, which were his final total for the game, are a season-high for the point guard from Wisconsin.
After Schell's shooting, the Chargers controlled the game on their defensive end but playing excellent man-to-man defense, harassing the Ferris State shooters at all parts of the court. Hillsdale held Ferris State to 30 percent shooting from the floor in the ballgame (19-for-63). One of the defensive leaders in the game for Hillsdale was senior guard Brandon Pritzl, who had the assignment of guarding Ferris State's top scorer, Drew Lehman.
Pritzl and his teammates held Lehman to 1 point on 0-for-6 shooting from the field. It was a championship effort on the defensive end of the court for the entire Charger team.
On offense, senior forward Tim Dezelski had another monster game, leading all scorers with 29 points, to go along with 10 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals in 37 minutes on the floor.
Senior forward Tony Nelson delivered at key times for the Chargers, with a season-high 14 points. He went 10-for-10 from the free throw line. Four of those makes came in the final 3:00 of the contest.
Sophomore guard Zach Miller also played a big part in the team's good play down the stretch, making six consecutive free throws while using his terrific vision to break Ferris State's full-court trapping defense in the waning minutes.
Pritzl had 5 points and a team-leading 6 assists in addition to his superb defense. Hillsdale outrebounded Ferris State 43-36, and the Chargers were clutch at the free throw line, going 26-for-30 (86.7 percent) as a team.
Hillsdale's last four opponents entered those games with a combined record of 26-8, and all four of those games count as regional wins, a very significant fact that will only help the Chargers in the month of March.