A two-game winning streak could not have come at a better time for the Hillsdale College women's basketball team.
Thursday night, the team halted a four-game skid against Tiffin, a team below it in the standings. Saturday, the Chargers took aim at a team above it in the standings, Cedarville, and survived a big test from the Yellow Jackets in a 72-66 victory at the Dawn Tibbetts Potter Arena.
The win moves Hillsdale to 10-11 overall and 8-7 in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference.
The Chargers won this game with fierce determination, taking on the G-MAC's best shooting team and doing an outstanding job of turning that strength into a weakness. The Yellow Jackets were shooting 50 percent as a team for the season and above 40 percent from the 3-point stripe coming into play Saturday. Hillsdale held Cedarville to well below both marks.
The Chargers held the Yellow Jackets to 37 percent shooting for the game (21-for-57) and limited one of Division II's most accurate 3-point shooting teams to 6-for-16 from beyond the arc, a 37.5 percent clip. Hillsdale was quick with its feet defensively and allowed Cedarville very few easy and open looks at the basket.
A big part of the win was the strong start the Chargers got off to. Hillsdale led 21-10 at the end of the first quarter, the second straight game it has held a lead of double figures after the first quarter. However, Cedarville outscored the Chargers by a total of 16 points across the second and third quarters, and led 48-45 entering the fourth.
But in that fourth quarter, Hillsdale made clutch plays at both ends of the floor and shot 8-for-12 as a team from the floor while limiting the Jackets to 40 percent shooting from the field in the final 10 minutes.
Sophomore guard Jaycie Burger stepped up with some pressure shooting in the fourth quarter, knocking down a pair of huge 3-point shots, the first of which put Hillsdale back in the lead, 51-50, early in the quarter. Her second came at the 5:12 mark of the fourth quarter and was part of a 14-4 Charger run that put the team in front for good.
Burger scored all 9 of her points in that final quarter.
This game was highlighted by another masterful performance from senior guard Allie Dewire, who would not be denied carrying her team to another win. She led all scorers with 24 points, making 10 of her 12 free throws while going 7-for-11 from the floor. As the game reached its most critical moments, Dewire took command, scoring 8 points in a stretch from the 1:35 mark to the 10-second mark in the fourth quarter.
It was another example of Dewire delivering when her team needed it the most.
The senior forward combination of Brittany Gray and Makenna Ott were ferocious defensively, each blocking three shots while combining for 27 points - 16 from Gray and 11 from Ott. They also combined to pull down 16 rebounds and contributed to Hillsdale's 43-36 edge in rebounding.
PHOTO: MaryKate Drews