The 2016-17 season got off to just the right start for the Hillsdale College women's basketball team.
For the first time in many years, the team opened a new season in front of a loud and supportive home crowd. The team gave that crowd plenty to cheer about in a 76-47 win over McKendree University on the first day of the 2016 GLIAC/GLVC Crossover Challenge, held at Dawn Tibbetts Potter Arena.
The Chargers sported a new look, going back to a royal-and-blue color scheme for the first time since the 2009-10 season. The players in those uniforms played an impressive form of defense while featuring a very balanced offensive attack that made it difficult for the Bearcats to deal with all night long.
Hillsdale outscored McKendree in all four quarters of the game, but none were as decisive as the second quarter. The Chargers outscored the Bearcats 23-4, holding McKendree to 13 percent shooting from the floor – 2-for-16. The Charger defense moved well, was active and disruptive in the passing lanes, and allowed few open, clean looks at the basket.
That second-quarter burst turned a 17-12 first-quarter advantage into a 40-16 lead at halftime.
Hillsdale had 12 steals as a team and forced 22 McKendree turnovers in the win. The Chargers shot 50 percent from the field in the game, while holding the Bearcats to 29.6 percent shooting.
Twelve different players scored for the Chargers, led by 12 by freshman center Julia Wacker, who was impressive in her collegiate debut. Wacker, a 6-foot-2 center, was 3-for-4 shooting from the floor, with a 3-pointer made, and hit five of her seven free throws. She showed a deft shooting touch and scored those 12 points in just 18 minutes of action.
Sophomore Makenna Ott had 9 points and 5 rebounds, while sophomore guard Michele Bpykin scored 9 off the bench to go along with 4 assists and 2 steals. Senior Becca Scherting and sophomore Brittany Gray each scored 8 for Hillsdale.
UP NEXT: Hillsdale takes on Illinois-Springfield at 6 p.m. Saturday.
PHOTO CREDIT: Carly Gouge