The nine-year wait was worth it.
The Hillsdale College women's basketball team made its Great Midwest Athletic Conference tournament debut Thursday night and made the most of it, defeating Ursuline College 81-69 at Cedarville University's Callan Athletic Center.
Hillsdale, now 17-10 on the season, advances to the G-MAC women's tournament semifinal and will face the top-seeded Yellow Jackets at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The Chargers came out playing with great energy, but coupled that with smart play on the offensive end of the court too. Rarely did the team force anything, and it stayed patient, waiting for good looks at the basket. While turnovers have often plagued the team in its losses, it was not a factor in this game, as Hillsdale turned the ball over just seven times against the defending conference champions.
Leading the charge was the team's toughest player, junior point guard Allie Dewire. Her offense is based primarily on taking the ball to the basket, but in this game, she was draining jump shots from all over the court. She led the team with 22 points, going 10-for-19 from the field. She missed a bit of time in the second quarter after getting knocked around, but she returned, showing her toughness in leading the team to its first postseason win since March 2011.
If turnovers were sometimes a weakness of this team, rebounding has always been a strength and it was even more so than usual in this game. Hillsdale simply owned the glass, outrebounding Ursuline 57-34, grabbing an unbelievable 26 offensive rebounds in the victory. Brittany Gray and Allie Dittmer each grabbed 10 boards and four other players had four or more rebounds for Hillsdale.
Gray made four 3-point baskets and finished with 16 and 3 steals to go along with her 10 boards. Sophomore Bree Porter came off the bench to score 11 points, making all four of her shots from the field.
Ursuline's Laney Lewis, the 2017-18 G-MAC Player of the Year, led her team with 21 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists.