HOLLAND, Mich. – Senior Alexis Nall (Mount Vernon, Ind.) netted a game-high 21 points, shooting 9-of-10 from the charity stripe to guide the Panthers to a season-opening victory over St. Mary's (Ind.) Friday evening, 61-53.
Hanover (1-0 overall) registered an impressive 20 steals, while forcing 29 St. Mary turnovers. Leading the defensive effort was junior Savannah Courtney (Lawrenceburg, Ky.) with a game-high six steals while grabbing five rebounds.
The Panthers opened the season strong as a jumper by senior Katie Hartman (Madison, Ind.) and a pair of free throws by Nall gave HC the 7-2 advantage. After weathering a brief St. Mary's comeback, the Blue and Red went on a 6-0 run to close out the opening period with the 13-6 lead.
In the second period, St. Mary's used a 5-0 run to cut the deficit to 13-9 before a Nall basket pushed the advantage to four points, 19-15. However, the back and forth continued as the Belles knotted the contest at 21-21 with just three minutes remaining before the half. They captured their first lead of the evening 24-21 at the 1:54 minute mark following a deep ball, but it didn't last long as the Panthers closed out the period on a short run for the 32-26 halftime advantage.
Hanover opened the second half with a quick score from Courtney to claim their largest lead to date, 34-26. With just over three minutes remaining, Nall took over, using a five-point surge to propel HC to the 45-39 third quarter advantage.
After a slight hiccup early, the Panthers soared to victory with a Hartman three-pointer followed by a jumper with 5:42 remaining to put HC on top 57-45. The Blue and Red would go on to win the season-opener 61-53 falling a Nall layup.
Hanover returns to action on Saturday, Nov. 16 as they take on nationally ranked Hope College as part of the Tipp-Off Classic. The tournament host and Panthers will tip-off at 3:00 PM.