Displaying a combination of patience and precision, the Charger men's basketball team turned in another impressive home performance Saturday afternoon.
Hillsdale earned its first win over Ashland since Feb. 15, 2014 in devastating fashion, 80-55 before a big crowd at the Dawn Tibbetts Potter Arena. This was a key win as the Chargers continue to claw into the GLIAC playoff race. The team is now 11-11 overall and 7-9 in the GLIAC, while the Eagles fell to 14-8 on the season.
Hillsdale was on fire from 3-point range in the first half, going 10-for-15 as a team and building a 19-point lead on Ashland, 49-30. The team shot 63 percent from the field overall in the half, and got contributions from players all over the roster.
Four players made two or more 3-pointers in that first half, providing optimal offensive balance for Hillsdale. Sophomore Harrison Niego and senior Rhett Smith each drained three 3-point shots, while Nate Neveau and Stedman Lowry each hit two as Hillsdale ran its offense at near peak efficiency.
The Chargers' 49 first-half points came on just 30 field goal attempts.
In the second half, Hillsdale made just one 3-pointer, but dissected the Ashland defense with terrific half-court offensive execution. The Chargers were 13-for-24 from the floor in the second half, and used back door cuts to put down one layup after another.
Hillsdale held a 29-13 edge in bench scoring, led by 15 from Niego and 12 by sophomore center Nick Czarnowski. This was Czarnowski's sixth straight game scoring in double figures.
Smith led Hillsdale with 17 points, going 6-for-8 from the field. Neveau scored 15 and had four rebounds, six assists and four steals. Lowry added 10.
Defensively, Hillsdale held Ashland to 38 percent shooting for the game, and did a great job of guarding the Eagles without fouling. Ashland attempted just five free throws in the game. The Chargers forced 18 Ashland turnovers while committing just eight of their own. That led to an 18-3 scoring advantage in points off turnovers for Hillsdale, one of its biggest margins of the season in that category.
UP NEXT: Hillsdale heads to Canton, Ohio to face Walsh University Thursday night.