With a basketball team as tough as Wayne State University, nothing ever comes easy. Although the Hillsdale College men's basketball team came away with a win Thursday night, it was a win they had to earn every second of.
The Chargers were able to hold off a late run by the Warriors to earn a 69-67 victory at the Hillsdale College Arena. Hillsdale, now winners of six in a row, improved to 8-3 overall and 4-2 in the GLIAC. Saturday, the team is back home hosting Saginaw Valley State University at 3 p.m.
Hillsdale survived a three-plus minute stretch where it didn't score a point. Wayne State sliced what was a 60-49 deficit with 5:47 to go to an uncomfortably close 60-56 margin by the 3:22 mark. But it was guards Zach Miller and Brandon Pritzl who came up with the clutch shots down the stretch that played a huge partin the Chargers' win.
Miller put down a left-handed layup to break the scoring drought, and on the next possession, nailed a 3-point shot from the right wing to hold off the hard-charging Warriors. Wayne State answered Miller's 3 with one of its own, and with 49 seconds left, the Warriors cut the lead to two, 65-63, the closest the game had been since the opening moments.
Pritzl, a team captain, then stepped to the free throw line and made four consecutive free throws that gave Hillsdale just enough to pick up the win. What made Pritzl's free throws even more important was that they occured before the double bonus, so he had to make the first foul shot in order to attempt a second. All four shots rang perfectly through the strings, allowing Hillsdale to pull out a big-time win.
Before the guards' heroics, Hillsdale was led by its go-to player, Tim Dezelski, who turned in another remarkable performance in what is starting to become an historic season. Dezelski finished the game with 27 points, 13 rebounds an 6 assists, while playing 39 minutes in this intense contest. He was often tasked with bringing the ball up the floor against Wayne State's full-court pressure defense. He played all 20 minutes of the second half, and delivered one big shot after another, at a point where Wayne State had upped its defensive execution.
Miller scored 10 points, the most he's had in a Hillsdale uniform, while Pritzl, who was hampered by early foul trouble, scored 7, 4 of which came in the game's final 16 seconds.
Forward Bryan Coleman led Wayne State with 22 in the contest.