There is no tougher matchup for any NCAA Division II women's basketball program than to travel to Ohio to face No. 1-ranked Ashland University. Hillsdale College accepted that challenge and acquitted itself well Saturday afternoon.
The Chargers hung tough with the undefeated Eagles before falling 85-66 at the Kates Gymnasium. Hillsdale is now 10-7 overall and 4-6 in the GLIAC, while Ashland improves to 18-0 on the season.
Few teams at any level or gender of basketball have been as dominant as the Eagles this season. They're winning their games by an average of 32 points, and have routinely scored more than 100 points. But Hillsdale refused to be intimidated against a devastating opponent, and played well and tough from the opening tipoff.
Hillsdale held a lead at the end of the first quarter, 26-22, one of the rare occasions when the Eagles were outscored in a quarter. The Chargers were hot from the field, shooting 10-for-16 (62 percent) while getting the better of the home team in points in the paint.
But in the second quarter, the Eagles tightened up on defense, flipping the game around by outscoring the Chargers 20-9, taking a 42-35 lead into halftime. A tight third quarter saw Hillsdale stay within striking distance throughout, but the Eagles hit the Chargers with an 8-0 run in the first 90 seconds of the fourth quarter to extend the lead close to 20.
Hillsdale shot 44 percent from the field in the game, but were outscored 18-8 at the free throw line, and were allowed to take 13 fewer attempts than Ashland (25-12). The Eagles had a huge edge on the boards, outrebounding Hillsdale 50-32, including a 20-6 advantage on the offensive boards.
Sophomore forward Makenna Ott made back-to-back 3-pointers late in the first quarter to give the Chargers their first lead. She paced Hillsdale with 16 points, going 6-for-11 from the field.
Junior center Allie Dittmer had 14 points and six rebounds, while sophomore Allie Dewire had a strong all-around game with 12 points, five rebounds and five assists. Sophomore Brittany Gray chipped in with 11.
The Chargers held Ashland to nine points under its scoring average per game for the season while scoring four more points than Ashland allows per game.
UP NEXT: Hillsdale hosts Walsh University at 6 p.m. Thursday.