Panthers to host MSJ in first place clash Wednesday

Wes McKinney

FULL NOTES IN PDF

HANOVER, Ind. – The Hanover men's basketball team will welcome Mt. St. Joseph for a mid-week conference clash Wednesday, with first place implications on the line.

The Panthers (18-5, 13-3 HCAC) and Lions (16-7, 13-3) are two of the three teams currently tied for first place in the HCAC standings, as the final week of the regular season tips off at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 14.

COVERAGE:  LIVE STATS  |  VIDEO  |  HCAC TIEBREAKER GUIDELINES

FAILS' MILESTONE WEEK CAPPED WITH CONFERENCE AWARD: The week of Feb. 5-11 was quite eventful for junior Cam Fails (Mason, Ohio), who reached the 1,000 career point plateau Wednesday and tallied a career high 32 points Saturday. For his efforts, where he averaged 26.0 points per game, Fails was named HCAC Player of the Week. The junior scored 20 points in a 77-54 win at Earlham last Wednesday, and followed it up with his career best scoring effort during an 86-74 triumph over Manchester Saturday. Fails has won both of Hanover's HCAC Player of the Week awards this season and now has three for his career.

HANOVER NAMED HeroSports TEAM OF THE MONTH: The Panthers posted a 7-2 record during the month of January, which included seven straight victories, to earn one of five nominations for HeroSports' NCAA Division III National Team of the Month award. The Blue and Red received 138 of the 323 total votes, accumulating over 40 percent of the ballots. Hanover outscored its opponents by an average margin of 13 points per game, while jumping up to No. 37 in HeroSports NCAA Division III National BennettRank.

FAMILIAR FOE IN LIONS: Wednesday will mark the fifth meeting between Hanover and Mt. St. Joseph since January 2017. The Panthers dropped the first of the previous four meetings, but have won three straight, including a 64-41 victory at MSJ earlier this season, handing the Lions their first conference loss of 2017-18. The Blue and Red also won the last meeting inside Collier Arena, last February, 58-51, which came in the HCAC Tournament championship game. Hanover holds a 31-7 edge in the all-time series with MSJ.

CONNECTIONS BETWEEN THE SCHOOLS: Hanover and MSJ head coaches, Jon Miller ('97) and Toby Carrigan ('98), were teammates on the Panther men's basketball squad back in the late 90's. Miller is 9-5 mark against his former college teammate, and 14-6 at HC versus the Lions. Hanover also has two players from the Greater Cincinnati area, Fails and senior Colin Smith (Cincinnati, Ohio). The Lions have a player from the local Hanover area as well, with senior Tyler Manaugh playing for nearby Madison High School before dawning the MSJ uniform.

HOME SWEET HANOVER: The Panthers, winners of five straight and 14 of their last 15 inside Collier Arena, have posted a 7-1 mark at home this season. In eight home games this year, HC has scored 79.4 points per game, which is four points higher than its season average. In both home outings in February, the Blue and Red have shown an explosive offense, scoring at least 80 points on both occasions.

THE HCAC'S TOP DEFENSES: Hanover and Mt. St. Joseph are the top two scoring defenses in the HCAC this season, allowing 64.9 and 65.5 points per game, respectively. The Panthers scoring defense is among the 20 in NCAA Division III, while the Lions have suffocated teams from behind the arc, conceding a .344 shooting clip.

PANTHERS POST TOP 20 STATISTICAL MARKS: The Panthers are currently ranked inside the top 20 in the country in three statistical categories. Going along with its scoring defense, HC is also among the nation's best in scoring margin (+12.7) and field goal percentage (.497). Mt. St. Joseph is among the NCAA's leaders in offensive efficiency, ranking fifth in overall field goal percentage, .507, and second in three-point percentage, .432.

UP NEXT: Hanover will close out the regular season against Defiance on Saturday, Feb. 17. The Panthers will welcome the Yellow Jackets for a 3 p.m. tip on what will be HC's Senior Day.

Contact: Tyler Jester

jestert@hanover.edu