The Hillsdale College women's basketball team will leave the GLIAC at the end of the current season, knowing it won its final regular season matchup with one of its most intense rivals.
Playing terrific defense while dominating the boards, the Chargers earned a 54-47 win over 16th-ranked Grand Valley State in Hillsdale's GLIAC home opener Thursday night at the Dawn Tibbetts Potter Arena. Hillsdale is now 6-3 overall and 1-2 in the conference while the Lakers dropped to 2-1 in the GLIAC.
The Lakers came into the game as one of the conference's most efficient 3-point shooting teams. But the Chargers played rugged defense, forcing GVSU into 17.9 percent shooting from the 3-point stripe. The Chargers complemented that work with a huge 53-35 edge in rebounding.
For the game, Grand Valley State shot just 25.9 percent from the field, 15-for-58. Out of those 43 missed shots, the Lakers corralled just 12 offensive rebounds, compared to 32 defensive rebounds for the Chargers.
Hillsdale wasn't exactly hot shooting from the field itself, hitting just 19 of 59 from the floor (32.2 percent), but the biggest difference was on its offensive boards. The Chargers grabbed 21 offensive rebounds. No offensive rebound was bigger than the one grabbed by junior center Allie Dittmer in the game's closing seconds.
Dittmer hit a layup with 47 seconds to go to put the Chargers on top 48-47. On Hillsdale's next possession, sophomore Makenna Ott was fouled going to the basket. She made her first free throw to put Hillsdale up two. But she missed her second, a rebound grabbed by Dittmer. After the subsequent foul, Dittmer calmly sank both free throws to give the Chargers not only a four-point lead at 51-47, but an invaluable two possession lead with just 21 seconds left on the clock.
Freshman center Julia Wacker then stepped up, grabbing a defensive rebound on Grand Valley State's next possession, then swished two more free throws to increase the lead to six with just 11 seconds left.
In the fourth quarter, Hillsdale outrebounded Grand Valley State 18-7 while grabbing eight offensive rebounds, three each by Dittmer and junior Maddy Reed. GVSU shot 4-for-16 from the field in the fourth quarter, and the Chargers enjoyed a 21-11 scoring edge.
Hillsdale won this game with its guard corps depleted by injury. Sophomore Allie Dewire played all 40 minutes, and played an aggressive game at both ends, finishing with 9 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists. Her and-one with 2:44 to go gave the Chargers their first lead of the fourth quarter, 46-45.
Dittmer was a force in the paint with 14 points and 14 rebounds in 33 minutes. Ott had 13 points and 3 rebounds while Reed once again affected the game with her hustle, totaling 7 points, 10 rebounds and 4 steals.
UP NEXT: Hillsdale hosts Ferris State at 1 p.m. Saturday.
PHOTO CREDIT: Carly Gouge