The habit of winning is not a bad one. The habit of winning the way the Charger men's basketball team has been might be a test of some people's heart conditions.
Hillsdale won its fourth in a row the hard way Saturday afternoon, climbing back from an 18-point second half deficit to defeat Ohio Dominican University 72-67 Saturday afternoon at the Dawn Tibbetts Potter Arena. The win makes the Chargers 11-2 overall and 5-1 in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference.
ODU came out sharp in quickly taking the lead in the first half. The Panthers made six 3-point field goals in the game's opening minutes to open up a 37-26 lead at intermission. Hillsdale was struggling with its execution at both ends of the floor, and couldn't get quality looks to fall.
Ohio Dominican tried to put the game away early in the second half, rapidly turning that 11-point lead to 18 with a half-opening 7-0 run that made the score 44-26 with 17:32 to go. Hillsdale clearly needed a spark one way or the other, and Harrison Niego provided it.
A junior guard who hasn't received much playing time lately, Niego took full advantage of his opportunity on this day to get Hillsdale going in a big way. He drained a 3-point bomb less than 30 seconds after checking in that got the bench up and cheering, and clearly injected the Chargers with life they sorely needed. Niego hit another 3 four minutes later, and that, plus some timely defensive stops, all of sudden had cut the deficit from 18 to 8 with plenty of time remaining in the game.
That helped Hillsdale to a second half much more to its liking. The Chargers shot 54 percent from the floor in the second half, made six 3-point shots, and most importantly, hit all 14 of their free throws in completing the comeback. Between its largest deficit and largest lead, Hillsdale engineered a 26-point swing over the game's final 17 minutes.
Ohio Dominican missed some critical free throws down the stretch, and shot just 39 percent in the second half. The Panthers were 6-for-10 from the line in the second half, with all four of those misses coming after the 4:17 mark of the second half.
If Niego was the spark, junior Gordon Behr was the steady flame for the Chargers. He stepped up huge on a day when the team was struggling with its conventional offensive sets to establish new career-highs in both points and rebounds. He poured in 19 points and grabbed 11 boards, making all eight of his free throws while shooting 5-for-10 from the floor. He also dished out 3 assists and had a couple of blocked shots in yet another standout performance.
Senior Ryan Badowski was on target throughout the game, finishing with 18 points, going 5-for-9 from downtown. Junior Nate Neveau calmly drained four straight free throws in the game's final minute, and had 12 points with 4 rebounds and 2 assists.