Women's basketball treks to Defiance Saturday

Claire Cromer shooting free throw


HANOVER, Ind. – The Hanover women's basketball team will look to continue its strong start to conference play, as they search for their fourth 3-1 start in five years this weekend, with a trip to Defiance.

The Panthers and Yellow Jackets will tip-off a women's-men's doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 16.

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THE TEAMS: The Panthers posted their first 5-2 overall start to a season for the first time in three years, but are coming off a home loss to Bluffton last Saturday, dropping them to 5-3 overall and 2-1 in the HCAC. Hanover is second in the HCAC in scoring offense, racking up 70.1 points per game. The team's defensive effort is also much improved in 2017-18, allowing just 63.5 points per contest, while also holding one of the nation's best 3-point field goal percentage defenses, conceding a .242 shooting clip from behind the arc.

Defiance will enter Saturday 2-5 overall and 1-2 in conference action, as the Hanover contest will conclude a three-game home stand. The Yellow Jackets are just 1-2 at the Karl H. Weaner Center this year and are coming off a 73-61 loss to Franklin last weekend. Three players are scoring in double figures for a DC team tallying just over 61 points per contest.

THE COACHES: A familiar face will don the sidelines for the Panthers in 2017-18, as John Jones is in his third season as the head coach and 15th season overall with the Hanover women's basketball program. Jones' 2016-17 team saw a four-game improvement overall and won six more HCAC games than in his opening campaign at the helm in 15-16. Overall, Jones is 27-32 as the head coach of the Panthers.

Jessica Morris is in her sixth season as the head coach of the Yellow Jackets, as she has produced 13 all-HCAC players over her time at DC. Morris guided Defiance to a 13-13 overall mark in 2016-17. Prior to joining the Yellow Jacket staff, she was an assistant coach from 2010-12 at Whitman (Wash.), where the Missionaries went 31-21.

LAST TIME OUT: Hanover is coming off its first home loss of the 2017-18 season, falling to Bluffton, who is receiving votes in both national top 25 polls, 83-65.

Sophomore Alexis Nall (Mount Vernon, Ind.) produced her best game of the season in the losing effort, tallying 17 points and a career high 13 rebounds for her first double-double of 2017-18. Off the bench, junior Avery Chezem (Loogootee, Ind.) also had her best scoring effort this season, recording 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting. Chezem made 3-of-4 tries from 3-point range as well.

Draining 7-of-9 free throws was junior Claire Cromer (Wabash, Ind.), as she finished with 16 points. Cromer now has 46 made free throws this season, which is the most of any HCAC player and also ranks 15th highest in NCAA Division III.

UP NEXT: The Panthers will close out the 2017 portion of its schedule by competing in the Wittenberg (Ohio) Kiwanis Holiday Classic. Hanover will open tournament play against No. 15/16 Ohio Northern on Dec. 29, and will face either Susquehanna (Pa.) or Wittenberg the following day.

Contact: Tyler Jester