In the sport of basketball, having a strong defense can often be the one reliable thing winning teams have at their disposal, playing a game that so often, through outside influences, can be unreliable.
Hillsdale yielded less than 50 points to an opponent for the third time this season, this time taking down Kentucky Wesleyan College 57-47 Thursday night. The win was the first for the Chargers at Owensboro's famous and intimidating Sports Center.
Hillsdale, winners of five straight, is now 13-5 overall and 9-2 in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference. The victory also keeps the Chargers in shared possession of first place in the conference.
Right from the game's opening moments, the Chargers deployed their conference-best defense against the Panthers, playing tough through screens and forcing contested shots by the Panthers. KWC managed just 11 points in the first 17-plus minutes of the first half. Although the Chargers went through a five-plus minute scoring drought of their own, their dependable defense stayed consistent, keeping the team in the lead.
The Chargers held a 26-15 lead at halftime, and although the second half saw both teams get loose on offense, with the points flowing more freely, the Chargers stayed in control throughout. Hillsdale led for more than 37 minutes and effectively responded to any surge the Panthers attempted throughout the second half.
Hillsdale held Kentucky Wesleyan to 31.5 percent shooting from the field (17-for-54) and 25 percent 3-point shooting (5-for-20). KWC went 0-for-10 from 3-point territory in the first half, when Hillsdale was able to build a lead.
Junior guard Dylan Lowry led a balanced offensive attack with 14 points, going 5-for-6 from the field. He made a pair of 3-pointers and pulled down 4 rebounds in the win.
Sophomore forward Davis Larson added 10 points, going 4-for-6 from the floor with 5 boards and 2 steals. Senior forward Gordon Behr pulled down a team-high 7 rebounds, and sophomore Austen Yarian came off the bench to produce 9 points and 6 rebounds.
PHOTO: MaryKate Drews