HANOVER, Ind. - The Hanover women's basketball team will open its 2017-18 campaign Wednesday, Nov. 15 when the Panthers host Spalding (Ky.) at home.
THE BASICS: Date – Nov. 15 | Time – 7:00 p.m. | Location – Collier Arena (Hanover, Ind.)
THE TEAMS: Hanover enters the season after posting a 13-13 overall record a year ago. The Panthers went 11-7 in Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference play. Their season came to an end with a 65-64 defeat to Franklin in the opening round of the HCAC Tournament. Spalding posted a 13-11 record last year and finished 8-8 in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, which was good for sixth place. The Golden Eagles won their final two games of the season, including an 83-55 win over MacMurray (Ill.) in the season finale.
SEASON OPENERS: Over the last 10 years, Hanover is 5-5 in season-opening games. After winning five straight from 2008-09 to 2012-13, the Panthers have dropped each of the last four openers, including a loss last year to pre-season No. 9 Washington University in St. Louis. The Blue and Red last won their season opener in 2012, which also happened to be the last time Hanover opened the year at home. The Panthers won that game 76-66 over Adrian (Mich.). Since the 2005-06 season Hanover has only opened the season on it's own campus three times. Along with the win over Adrian in 2012, the Panthers defeated Kalamazoo (Mich.) 71-53 in 2009 and St. Mary's 68-51 to start 2005. All three games were played as part of season-opening tournaments hosted by Hanover.
HOME OPENERS: The Panthers are 5-3 in home-openers over the last eight years. Hanover defeated Manchester 90-75 in its first home game a year ago in what was also the team's conference opener. In fact, of those eight home-openers, six were also HCAC openers.
EXPERIENCE RETURNS: Last year's team did not have any seniors, which means a wealth of talent and experience return in 2017-18. Nine of the team's top 10 scorers are back with another year under their belt. This year's squad features three seniors, including Allison Nash (Speedway, Ind.), who led the team and ranked 11th in the HCAC with 11.2 points per game. She also ranked fourth in the league in field goal percentage at 51.8%. Sophomore Maleha Motter (Danville, Ind.) is back for her second season in a Hanover uniform. Motter ranked fifth in the conference with 6.9 rebounds per game and scored 8.8 per contest as a freshman.
THE SERIES: While only a little more than 40 miles separate the two schools, Hanover and Spalding have only met twice since the 2004-05 season. The Panthers won last year's contest 92-91 in Louisville, and also defeated the Golden Eagles 70-58 in Collier Arena during the 2007-08 season.
LAST YEAR: Down one point with five seconds to go, Maleha Motter made a lay-up to give Hanover a 92-91 win at Spalding December 30, 2016. The Blue and Red led 71-59 after three quarters, but the Golden Eagles out-scored the Panthers 32-21 in the fourth quarter and had a game-winning three-point attempt miss as time expired. Current sophomore Alexis Nall (Mount Vernon, Ind.) scored a team-high 24 points and had eight rebounds. Motter posted a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds and Allison Nash added 15 points in the win. Alex Martin and Mackenzie Myers finished with 22 and 17 points respectively for the Golden Eagles.
MORE ABOUT SPALDING: Spalding averaged 66.5 points per game last year and allowed 61.3 per contest for a +5.2 scoring margin. Junior Alex Martin returns after leading the team in scoring at 13.2 points per game, while also contributing 4.1 assists and 4.0 rebounds per contest. The Golden Eagles lost three of their top five scorers and rebounders from last year's team.
Contact: Mike Pritchard