A 24-point halftime lead was more than enough to give the Hillsdale College men's basketball team its sixth straight home win and third win in a row overall Wednesday night.
Four starters scored in double figures as Hillsdale defeated Cedarville University 81-61 at the Dawn Tibbetts Potter Arena. The Chargers are now 10-2 overall and 4-1 in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference.
Playing games in the middle of final exams is a challenge for any team, but Hillsdale has it rougher than most with its nationally acclaimed academic rigor. But any mental or physical effects of final exams were not evident in the Chargers as they opened the game playing razor-sharp basketball at both ends.
Less than eight minutes into the game, Hillsdale ran out to a 23-6 lead after a five-point burst by redshirt-freshman Davis Larson. Players were coming off screens effectively, Nate Neveau drained three 3-point field goals and the team was playing with energy and spacing on defense to immediately put the Yellow Jackets in a deep hole.
That early 17-point lead ballooned to 24 by halftime, as Hillsdale shot 51 percent from the floor compared to 36 percent for Cedarville. The Chargers enjoyed a bigger advantage on the boards, outrebounding the Jackets 24-11 in the game's first half.
Hillsdale also earned a 17-3 edge in free throws made, as post players Nick Czarnowski and Gordon Behr controlled the flow of play near the basket. They combined to make 13 of 14 free throws in the game.
Czarnowski turned in another strong performance, going 9-for-13 from the field in collecting a game-high 25 points in just 28 minutes played. He also pulled down 8 rebounds with 2 assists and 2 steals.
Behr was strong inside with 12 points and 6 rebounds, while Neveau racked up 14 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists with no turnovers. Senior Ryan Badowski contributed 10 points, and freshman center Austen Yarian came off the bench to grab a career-high 10 rebounds.