March 6, 2013 - The 2012-13 season came to a close for the Hillsdale College men's basketball team Wednesday night, as it fell 73-57 to Grand Valley State University in the first round of the 2013 GLIAC Men's Basketball Tournament in Allendale.
The Chargers' season ends with a 17-10 overall record. The Lakers advance to this weekend's tournament semifinals, which will be hosted by number-two seed Michigan Tech University.
Taking on the GLIAC's best defensive team on the road in the conference tournament figured to be a daunting challenge for any team. The Lakers allowed the fewest points per game and held teams to the lowest shooting percentage of any team in the conference, and the Chargers ran square into the teeth of that defense Wednesday.
Hillsdale shot 43 percent from the field in each half, but had trouble slowing down the Lakers on the other end of the court in the second half. GVSU held a slim 27-26 lead at halftime, but went on to score 46 points in the second half while shooting 90 percent from the free throw line to sew up the win at home.
The Lakers were whistled for 10 fewer fouls than the Chargers (22-12) and outscored Hillsdale 20-8 from the free throw line. But beyond that desparity, GVSU was able to run its offense efficiently through the middle of the second half, when it extended its lead thanks to a 13-3 run that turned a four-point game into a double-digit advantage.
The Lakers also held a big advantage in the turnover battle, forcing 18 by Hillsdale while only committing seven of their own. And GVSU made Hillsdale pay for those mistakes, outscoring the Chargers 27-5 in points off turnovers.
The game ended up being the final one in the career of Charger seniors Nick Washburn and Ryan Choiniere. Washburn closed out his fine career with a team-leading performance, finishing with 20 points, nine rebounds and two blocked shots. He went 7-for-12 from the floor and displayed his usual powerful presence near the rim. It was Washburn's third 20-point performance of the season and was nearly unstoppable, even by the stout Laker defense, when he got the ball in good position.
Junior Tim Dezelski scored 11 points while junior Anthony Manno scored 10 off the bench. Manno hit three 3-point shots and gave the team a big spark in the first half, when it was able to take a brief lead.
In other first-round games Wednesday night, Findlay defeated Ferris State, Michigan Tech knocked off Northwood in overtime, and Lake Superior State upset the tournament's top seed, Wayne State, in Detroit 70-68.
The future appears very bright for Charger basketball. In 2013-14, Hillsdale will return four starters and 12 letterwinners, and will welcome guard Zach Miller, a transfer from Northern Illinois, who was forced to sit out this season with an injury.