Madness was in full effect in the last 30 seconds of Tuesday night's thrilling G-MAC Men's Basketball Tournament Quarterfinal between Hillsdale College and Lake Erie College.
Junior guard Dylan Lowry was huge down the stretch, scoring the Chargers' final 8 points, and Nick Czarnowski had a blocked shot near the buzzer in a 60-59 Hillsdale win in a tournament quarterfinal game.
Hillsdale now advances to the tournament semifinals, scheduled for Friday night at the University of Findlay. The Chargers, the #3 seed, will face #2 seed Walsh University.
In a game between two of the G-MAC's best defensive teams, this game was a grind-it-out affair from the opening tip. Hillsdale held a lead as large as 11, 49-38, with 9:18 to go. But the Storm, an incredibly tough and tenacious team, used strong defense to work its way back into the game.
After trailing by 11, Lake Erie went on a 17-4 run, capped by a 3-point shot by Harrison Riggs with 2:53 to go. That's when Lowry went to work.
He scored all 8 of Hillsdale's points over the game's final 110 seconds, several of those short, off-balance jumpers from the paint. Very difficult shots to swish, but Lowry's wiry frame and ability to stay squared to the rim allowed him to get the better of a very tough Storm defense.
Lake Erie led 59-58 with 13 seconds to go after a Gabe Kynard steal and layup. Refusing to take a timeout, Hillsdale ran right back down the floor, setting up Lowry for another short jumper that gave the Chargers a 60-59 lead with 6 seconds remaining.
The Storm managed to get the ball all the way to the Hillsdale basket when Riggs drove in from the left side for a layp. But senior center Nick Czarnowski was there, playing great help defense and he blocked the short just enough that it fell short, ending the game and sending the players and crowd into a wild celebration.
Statistically, this game was dead even, as one would expect in a 1-point contest. The Chargers, owners of a stingy defense themselves, forced 17 turnovers while committing only 12 themselves. Hillsdale won despite Lake Erie shooting 51 percent from the field and 42 percent from 3-point territory.
Lowry led the Chargers with 16 points, going 7-for-12 from the floor while draining two 3-point shots. Sophomore Davis Larson played his usual tough game with 14 points, hitting six of his eight shots. Czarnowski went 6-for-10 from the field and had 13 points and 4 rebounds.
This is the second year in a row Hillsdale has eliminated Lake Erie from the G-MAC Tournament. Last year's Charger win over the Storm came in the tournament semifinal.
PHOTO: MaryKate Drews