The Tiffin University men's basketball team can be one of the toughest in the conference to defend, because of its explosiveness, unpredictability and streaky outside shooting. The Hillsdale College men's basketball team had answers for all those qualities in registering its eighth win in a row.
The Chargers made some big plays down the stretch of a competitively played game, topping the Dragons 67-58 in front of more than 500 fans at the Hillsdale College Arena. Hillsdale is now 10-3 overall and 6-3 in the conference, and will look for win number nine in a row Saturday afternoon at Ohio Dominican.
Led by Joe Graessle, one of the GLIAC's best shooters, the Dragons forced the action early and took an 8-0 lead to open the game. Hillsdale quickly countered with a 10-0 run to take its first lead as the game settled into a duel of streaks throughout the first half.
Tiffin led by as many as 5 points in the first half, but thanks in part to 5 quick points by senior guard Derek Schell, the Chargers were able to counter, and led by 1 at halftime, 28-27.
A Tiffin dunk off a behind-the-back pass from Graessle gave the Dragons another 5 point lead, 38-33, with 16:07 left in the game. From that point, the Chargers increased their action, quickness and intensity on defense, and started forcing more Tiffin turnovers.
On offense, who else to lead the Chargers than senior Tim Dezelski.
The three-time reigning GLIAC South Division Player of the Week had another huge game for Hillsdale, finishing with a game-high 25 points on 10-for-14 shooting from the floor. He also had 11 rebounds and 5 assists in 37 tough minutes on the court. Dezelski drew a lot of attention from the Dragon defense, but was patient and smart enough to find openings, whether it was under the basket, or out on the wings, where he's comfortable with his 3-point shooting. He made 3 of his 5 3-point attempts in the game.
No 3-pointer was bigger, however, than the one senior guard Brandon Pritzl hit with 39 seconds left in the game. Tiffin had cut Hillsdale's lead to six, 62-56, making it a two-possession game. A two-possession margin, with a shooter of Graessle's caliber, is well within reach for a team like Tiffin.
But with the shot clock near zero, Pritzl swished a 3-point bomb from the right corner that turned that margin into a 7-point lead for the Chargers, which was just enough to remove all doubt from the final outcome. Pritzl's shot was set up on a pinpoint pass from guard Zach Miller.
Pritzl finished with 10 points in the game, along with 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. Miller came off the bench to score 8 and had 3 assists and 2 steals in 23 minutes.