HANOVER, Ind. – The Hanover men's basketball team opened its 2018-19 season Tuesday evening with a 78-55, home victory over Spalding (Ky.).
The Panthers (1-0) had three players score in double figures as they cruised to their ninth straight home-opening win. The Golden Eagles, who are coming off a 9-15 campaign in 2017-18, fall to 0-1 in the new season.
Hanover never trailed as the team scored eight quick points to force a Spalding timeout less than two minutes into play. Sophomore Isaac Hibbard (New Albany, Ind.) and freshman Zach Harp (Cincinnati, Ohio) combined to score the game's first 11 points and HC's first 13 points, as the Blue and Red led 13-5 just over four minutes in.
Hibbard finished the contest with 16 points, as well as a career- and team-high 12 rebounds, giving him his first collegiate double-double. The sophomore made 7-of-11 field goals, while also dishing out four assists. Harp also netted 7-of-11 field goal tries, including a five-for-eight effort from behind the arc, as he paced the Panthers with 19 points in his collegiate debut.
Joining the backcourt duo in double figures was sophomore post player Connor Washburn (Fishers, Ind.). Washburn made all four of his shot attempts and added two makes from the charity stripe for 10 points off the bench.
Hanover's lead was cut to seven points, 21-14, with 9:36 remaining in the first half. The Panthers though, closed the opening period on an 18-6 run to lead 39-20 at the intermission. The Blue and Red forced the Golden Eagles into a .265 shooting clip in the first half, as SU made just 9-of-34 shots. Spalding finished the contest with a field goal percentage of .328.
The Panthers continued to force the issue to start the second half, as they came out of the break on a 10-2 run to go in front 49-22 with 15:39 left to play. The lead ballooned to as many as 31 points after Washburn converted on a three-point play to put HC in front 60-29, with 10:58 remaining.
Hanover had 11 players find the scoring column over the 40-minute session, which helped lead to 31 bench points. The Panthers also enjoyed a 46-44 edge on the glass and a 34-24 advantage in paint points.
Overall, HC finished with 45.6 percent shooting clip, making 30-of-66 field goal tries. The Panthers also assisted on 21 made shots, led by senior Cam Fails (Cincinnati, Ohio) and junior Logan Ratts (Martinsville, Ind.), who dished out six dimes each. Junior Blake Robertson (Greenfield, Ind.) added four helpers as well. Fails, Ratts and Robertson were also three of six Panther players that recorded at least four rebounds.
Hanover will look to continue its strong start to the season when they travel to Thomas More (Ky.) this weekend to compete in the Jim Connor Classic. The Panthers open tournament play against Akron-Wayne (Ohio) at 5:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 16.
Contact: Tyler Jester