A season-high in scoring naturally came with two players hitting their individual career-highs in scoring in a well-earned road victory for the Hillsdale College men's basketball team Thursday night.
Senior guard Harrison Niego and junior guard Dylan Lowry combined for 41 points in Hillsdale's 74-66 win over Cedarville University in Ohio. The win makes the Chargers 1-0 in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference and 4-3 on the season.
The win was significant in both the big and small pictures. Conference road wins are always a premium, and the Chargers got a big one in one of the G-MAC's tougher environments.
But in the big picture, this was a milestone win for Hillsdale College head coach John Tharp, who recorded his 400th career victory. Already the Charger program leader in coaching wins, Tharp added another piece to a legacy of winning, hard work and joy that has always eminated from him and his teams.
That 400th win came thanks to some splendid shooting performances from Niego and Lowry, who were steady and solid throughout the game.
Niego scored a career-high 22 points, shooting 7-for-11 from the field including four 3-point field goals. A key for Niego was getting off to a good start. He made four of his first five shots from the field, which not only got the team an early lead, but gave him confidence to keep looking for his shot.
Lowry tied his career-high by scoring 19, 12 coming in the second half. He went 8-for-13 from the floor and nailed three 3-point baskets. He stepped up late in the game when the Yellow Jackets were hanging close. His jumpers prevented Cedarville from building up scoring runs that could have resulted in a lead rather than a one or two-point scoring margin.
As well as Lowry and Niego played on the offensive end, it was a play on the defensive end of the court that was a game-changer. Hillsdale led 68-66 with a minute to go when senior Gordon Behr blocked a layup attempt by Cedarville's Robert Orko. The Chargers then ran a lengthy and smart offensive possession which ended with a Davis Larson layup that put Hillsdale up four with just 36 seconds to play.
Niego and Larson combined to go 4-for-4 from the free throw line in the game's waning seconds to close out the victory.
Sophomore Trenton Richardson provided 8 key points in 13 minutes off the bench for the Chargers while Behr had 12 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists. Larson had 7 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists in 37 rugged minutes of action.
PHOTO: MaryKate Drews