Thanks to a gritty and disciplined effort on defense, the Hillsdale College men's basketball team won its first-ever Great Midwest Athletic Conference Tournament game Thursday afternoon, 71-59 over Alderson Broaddus.
The Chargers, the tournament's #3 seed, advances to Friday's semifinal, where it will face #7 seed Lake Erie College at 5 p.m. at the University of Findlay. Hillsdale is 20-8 on the season, hitting the 20-win plateau for the first time since the 2011-12 season.
This was Hillsdale's first postseason win in two years, and it came thanks to its team strength all season, the defense. The Chargers played a tough, disciplined game on the defensive end of the floor, and frustrated the Battlers, keeping them out of their preferred offensive sets throughout the contest.
Alderson Broaddus missed 21 of its first 25 2-point shots, and the Chargers were able to maintain a double digit lead through much of the second half. Hillsdale outrebounded Alderson Broaddus 45-37, and held the Battlers to 30.8 percent shooting from the floor for the game.
AB's shooting percentage didn't get above 25 percent until late in the game, when it started making more shots, keeping the game just close enough to be stressful for Charger fans. But Hillsdale was the league's top free throw shooting team during the season, and showed why down the stretch. The Chargers made all eight of their free throw attempts in the game's final two minutes to put this one away.
AB hit a pair of threes to cut the lead to nine, 61-52, with 3:02 to play. But Nick Czarnowski swished a jumper from the paint to restore the team's 10-point lead, and the free throw shooters took over from there.
Hillsdale outscored Alderson Broaddus 28-14 on points in the paint, and the Chargers committed just seven turnovers in the entire game.
Senior Ryan Badowski led a balanced offensive effort with 15 points, making all 10 of his free throw attempts. He pulled down 11 rebounds, adding to the team's excellent play inside.
Hillsdale outscored Alderson Broaddus 23-8 on free throws in the victory.