Written by Sports Information Student Assistant, Jake Sipes-Salter
HANOVER, Ind. - A balanced fourth-quarter scoring attack turned the tide for the Hanover women's basketball team in a competitive matchup, as they secured a 74-61 win over Mount St. Joseph for its fifth triumph in the last six games.
With the victory, the Panthers advanced to 17-7 overall and 13-4 in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference. The Lions effectively dropped to 13-11 with an 8-9 mark in the HCAC.
Junior Alexis Nall (Mount Vernon, Ind.) paced both squads in scoring and rebounding, as she finished with 30 points and a personal-best 20 boards. Junior Brooke Todd (Vevay, Ind.) contributed 10 points, three assists and three rebounds to lead the starting guards.
Senior Claire Cromer (Wabash, Ind.) distributed a team-high four assists on the night and scored nine points. Junior Kristin Mills (Cincinnati, Ohio) topped all bench scorers with 12 points while adding six rebounds, three dimes and a pair of steals for the Blue and Red.
In the first quarter, Hanover grabbed a string of five-point leads, beginning with a 7-2 advantage at the 5:44 mark off a layup from Nall. HC would secure two additional five-point advantages at 3:13 and 1:29 on layups from freshman McKenzie Messmore (Bedford, Ind.) and Mills, with the latter giving the Blue and Red a 15-10 advantage. By the end of the period, it was 15-13 in favor of the Panthers.
Hanover made the first basket of the second frame to take a 17-13 margin with 9:49 remaining. However, between then and 5:41, the Blue and Red fell victim to a 7-2 Lions run and found themselves down 20-19. Mount St. Joseph would take another one-point lead with 2:19 left, but Nall responded with a three on the other end to regain the HC lead by a score of 28-26 with 1:02 left. At half, the Panthers held a 32-29 advantage.
The third quarter started off slow for HC, as they fell victim to a 10-3 run in the first four minutes. A jumpshot from Todd with 5:08 to go stopped a scoring drought for the Blue and Red, who pulled it to 41-37. A 7-3 run saw Hanover tie it at 44 apiece, capped by a Mills field goal with 2:36 showing on the clock. Despite its push, HC still narrowly trailed 52-50 after 30 minutes.
Although the Panthers struck first in the fourth quarter to tie it at 52-all, the Lions responded with a trey from Mackenzie Marcum to broaden the margin to a 55-52 MSJ advantage with 9:39 remaining in the contest. Following, the Blue and Red went on a 13-2 run to storm ahead of the Lions, capped by a pair of threes from Todd and sophomore Savannah Courtney (Lawrenceburg, Ky.). With Courtney's trey, HC took a 65-57 lead with 4:37 to play. After the mid-period spurt, Mount St. Joseph would never come within single digits again.
As a unit, the Panthers outrebounded MSJ 41 to 34, including 13 to seven on the offensive glass. This translated to 15 second-chance points for HC while the Lions scored five. Moreover, Hanover grabbed 12 steals to eight for Mount St. Joseph, with 10 coming from the Panther starting unit.
The Blue and Red will next take to the hardwood for their regular season finale at Defiance, which is slated for a 1 p.m. start on Saturday, Feb. 16.
Contact: Tyler Jester