Charger Men Escape Lake Erie With 61-60 Win

Sophomore Gordon Behr drives baseline.
Sophomore Gordon Behr drives baseline.

The Hillsdale College men's basketball team put on a clinic defensively over the last nine minutes of Thursday night's game at Lake Erie College, and escaped with a 61-60 victory over the Storm.

The Chargers outscored LEC 17-4 over the final nine minutes of the game, climbing out of a 12-point hole in jarring fashion. The win makes the team 9-10 overall and 5-9 in the GLIAC. The winning points were scored by junior Ryan Badowski, who grabbed an offensive rebound, got fouled, and made two free throws with 18 seconds left to flip a one-point deficit into a one point lead.

The team's defense, so stout over the last nine minutes, had one more stop in it. The Storm gained possession of the ball with 18 seconds left, but were forced to take a time out with 1.9 seconds left, unable to get a shot off before then. A 3-point shot at the buzzer bounced harmlessly away, and Hillsdale gratefully accepted one of its most unlikely wins of the season.

Hillsdale was playing from behind the entire game, getting off to a very slow start. Lake Erie built a 17-3 lead in the game's first five minutes, blitzing the Chargers with an array of jump shots from all over the court.

Hillsdale gathered itself and cut the 14-point deficit to three shortly before halftime on a free throw by sophomore Gordon Behr. The Storm held a 36-31 lead at halftime, a lead that would quickly grow in the second half.

Lake Erie made 3-point shots on two of three possessions in the middle of the second half to build its largest lead, 54-40, with 10:42 left in the game. But Hillsdale's defensive hustle and adjustments took over the game from there. And a couple made shots for a team struggling from the field didn't hurt either.

The Storm shot 2-for-10 from the field and had four turnovers in the game's final 10 minutes. On the other side, Hillsdale relied on its shooters to claw its way back into it.

Badowski and junior Stedman Lowry hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to turn a seven-point deficit into a 60-59 game in a matter of 65 seconds. Sophomore center Nick Czarnowski scored four of his 11 points during the game-ending 17-4 run as well, his third straight game of scoring double digits.

In addition to its team defense, the Chargers played tough on the boards, outrebounding Lake Erie 41-25 in the game. Hillsdale corralled 15 offensive rebounds, none bigger than Badowski's on the Chargers' last offensive possession of the game.

Lowry led Hillsdale with 13 points, hitting three 3-point field goals. Czarnoswki had seven rebounds to go along with his 11 points, and senior Nick Archer tossed in nine points. Badowski had 8 points and nine rebounds, while Nate Neveau had five rebounds and four assists for Hillsdale.

UP NEXT: Hillsdale hosts Ohio Dominican at 3 p.m. Saturday.