Walsh Holds off Furious Hillsdale Comeback Attempt

Senior Rhett Smith powers through the defense for 2 points during the Chargers' comeback attempt in the second half Thursday night. Photo credit: Sarah Klopfer
Senior Rhett Smith powers through the defense for 2 points during the Chargers' comeback attempt in the second half Thursday night. Photo credit: Sarah Klopfer

A jump shot by Walsh's Zac Carter rattled in with 1.1 seconds remaining to lift the Cavaliers to a hard-fought 79-77 win over the Hillsdale College men's basketball team Thursday night at the Dawn Tibbetts Potter Arena.

The loss drops the Chargers to 7-10 overall and 3-8 in conference play.

Carter's shot capped an emotional 13 minutes for the Chargers, who trailed 8-0 early, battled back, trailed by 10 at halftime, then saw back-to-back technical fouls called that helped put the Cavs up by 14 points with 10:23 left to play.

From that point, Hillsdale increased its intensity on both ends of the floor, and went on a 17-3 run to tie the game at 67 with 3:51 to go. The Chargers whittled away at the lead thanks to simple shot making by several players, sophomore center Nick Czarnowski chief among them.

Czarnowski put together the best game of his young career, leading Hillsdale with 16 points and eight rebounds, going 8-for-12 from the field. His layup at the 3:51 mark shockingly tied the game.

Walsh responded by scoring seven of the next nine points in the game, taking a 74-69 lead with 1:56 left. But the Chargers had more left in the tank. Senior Rhett Smith swished a 3-pointer, followed by a lefthanded layup by Stedman Lowry. On Hillsdale's next possession, Smith rolled to the basket, making the layup and converting the ensuing free throw to tie the game up once again at 77 with 20 seconds left.

Carter, the GLIAC's leading scorer at more than 25 points per game, was intent on taking the last shot of the game. The Cavs didn't run a play, and Carter didn't pass the ball. He was guarded by Hillsdale's Jack Cordes, a 6-foot-7 forward, with the hope of contesting the game-ending shot. Cordes did a great job of moving his feet and keeping Carter in front of him. But Carter jabbed to his left, then stepped back and made another heavily contested jumper, just the last in a string of such shots he made all game.

Carter and teammate Trey Fletcher, the No. 3-leading scorer in the GLIAC, combined for 56 of Walsh's 79 points. Fletcher finished with 32 points, 22 of them coming in the first half. Carter had 26 points for the Cavs.

Walsh outrebounded Hillsdale 35-28 and outscored the Chargers 18-7 from the free throw line. The Cavs were especially efficient from the charity stripe, going 18-for-21 as a team. Hillsdale shot 51 percent from the floor and hit 10 3-pointers compared to seven for Walsh.

Senior center Nick Archer finished with 13 points and four rebounds, while Smith had 12 and a season-high five assists. Sophomore Nate Neveau added 8 with six boards.

UP NEXT: Hillsdale hosts Tiffin at 3 p.m. Saturday