Wittenberg Holiday Classic on the horizon for women's basketball

Bench watching play


HANOVER, Ind. – The Hanover women's basketball team will close out 2017 with a trip to Springfield, Ohio, where they will compete in the Wittenberg Kiwanis Holiday Classic for the first time in three seasons.

The Panthers will open tournament play against nationally-ranked Ohio Northern at noon, Friday, Dec. 29. Hanover will then face either Wittenberg or Susquehanna (Pa.) in the third place or championship game at noon or 4:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 30.

COVERAGE: Wittenberg Kiwanis Holiday Classic Tournament Page

THE TEAMS: The Panthers have posted their best nine-game start since the 2014-15 campaign, 6-3, and are coming off a 92-62 victory at Defiance, improving to 3-1 in HCAC play. With one win this weekend HC would have at least seven overall victories prior to January for the first time since 2012-13, when the squad finished the opening two months of play at 8-3. Hanover's 92 points last time out set a new season high and gave the Blue and Red a 6-1 record under head coach John Jones when surpassing the 90-point plateau.

After dropping its opening game of the season, Ohio Northern has won eight straight, accumulating an 8-1 overall mark and 4-0 record in Ohio Athletic Conference play. The Polar Bears are currently ranked 14th and 16th respectively in the D3hoops.com and WBCA national polls. Hanover and ONU have faced two common opponents this year, with each side falling to Bluffton and defeating Defiance.

Wittenberg will enter its home tournament riding a three-game winning streak, which has improved them to 6-6 overall and 2-3 in the North Coast Athletic Conference. The Tigers have scored 75 points in two of its most recent wins, with the other victory coming against HCAC-institution, Franklin, 64-47. Wittenberg is averaging 67.3 points per contest and is shooting close to 40 percent from the field.

Susquehanna is 5-3 overall, but has dropped each of its last two contests, both of which came during non-conference play. The River Hawks will be competing away from home for just the third and fourth times this season, currently holding a 1-1 road record. Susquehanna has relied on a stout defensive effort in 2017-18, holding its opponents to 58.4 points per game, while conceding a .340 field goal percentage.

LAST TIME OUT: Hanover combined a strong defensive start with a hot shooting second half to produce its second win this season of at least 30 points.  The Panthers held Defiance to just a .246 first half shooting clip, while enjoying a 61.3 percent (19-31) effort in the second half.  

The Blue and Red received 49 points from the bench, with junior Morgan Bivins (Bloomington, Ind.) leading the way, tying a career high with 15 points. Bivins made 5-of-6 field goal and free throw attempts, while also setting a season high in rebounds with seven.

Three starters also tallied double-digit scoring efforts in sophomores Maleha Motter (Danville, Ind.), Alexis Nall (Mount Vernon, Ind.) and Brooke Todd (Vevay, Ind.). Motter grabbed 12 rebounds as well, giving her a conference-best three double-doubles this season.

UP NEXT: Hanover will return to action in the New Year and open a 14-game HCAC stretch with a trip to conference-leading Rose-Hulman at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 3. The Panthers will also travel to face Manchester at 1 p.m. Saturday to close out the opening week of January.

Contact: Tyler Jester