A 17-point first-half deficit against the G-MAC's best offense wasn't enough to sink the G-MAC's best defense.
The Hillsdale College men's basketball team put on a defensive clinic in the second half of a 73-63 win over Walsh University at the Dawn Tibbetts Potter Arena Saturday afternoon. The win wraps up a perfect weekend for Hillsdale, who is now 9-2 overall and 3-1 in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference.
The Cavaliers led the Chargers 24-7 early in the first half and were running their customary sharp offense while showing much more energy than Hillsdale had. The Chargers needed a shot in the arm, and got it from one of their many talented guards coming off the bench.
Sophomore Mike Travlos popped in three 3-point field goals to inject much-needed life into the Charger team as it waded through the first half. Although Hillsdale faced a nine-point first half deficit, that lead was half of what it was at its worst point.
In the second half, the conference's best offense in terms of points allowed operated at an elite level.
Hillsdale opened the half on a 9-0 run to quickly tie the game at 42 apiece. Senior Ryan Badowski made two free throws after an intentional foul by Walsh to knot the game up. Senior Stedman Lowry drained a 3-point shot off a perfect pass out of the post by Nick Czarnowski to give the Chargers their first lead, 45-44, with 15:49 to go in the game. Walsh only led for one possession in the game after that. The Cavs missed all three free throws after a Hillsdale foul on a 3-point shot attempt, and two possessions later, sophomore Dylan Lowry snaked his way into the paint for a layup. That exchange appeared to dictate the confidence and momentum of both teams the rest of the game.
The Chargers outscored the Cavaliers 40-21 in the second half and incredibly, limited the high-powered Walsh offense to 22 percent shooting (6-for-22) in the game's final 20 minutes. The Cavs were 1-for-11 from 3-point territory in the second half while Hillsdale was 10-for-20 from the floor in the second half. The Chargers played a smart offensive second half, rarely forcing shots and displaying the kind of patience that makes them hard for any team to guard in a half-court paced game.
Part of that discipline came at the free throw line, where Hillsdale sank 18 of its 20 foul shot attempts in the second half. As Walsh got frustrated defensively, the Chargers took full advantage, getting points on enough possessions to keep the Cavs at bay through the game's final 10 minutes.
Junior guard Nate Neveau turned in another admirable effort, going 10-for-11 from the free throw line to finish with 15 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. Junior center Nick Czarnowski had another strong performance for Hillsdale with a team-high 16 points, shooting 8-for-12 from the field. Stedman Lowry and Travlos each finished with 9.
Senior Gordon Behr grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds, playing with heart and determination inside throughout the game.