SPRINGFIELD, Ohio – Despite a career high 19 points from junior Avery Chezem (Loogootee, Ind.), the upset bid for Hanover's women's basketball team fell short Friday afternoon, dropping the opening game of the Wittenberg (Ohio) Kiwanis Classic to No. 14/16 Ohio Northern, 67-60.
Chezem scored 10 of her career best point total in the opening half, before finishing with a 6-of-11 effort from the field. The junior transfer made three of HC's four three-pointers in the contest, while also posting a career high six rebounds. Her previous career best, 14 points, came at Siena Heights (Mich.), while her total Friday was eight points higher than her HC high.
Sophomore Alexis Nall (Mount Vernon, Ind.) scored in double figures for the fourth consecutive game, tallying 14 points and eight rebounds. Nall scored 10 points in the second half, shooting 5-for-7 over the final 20 minutes of play.
Recording at least 10 rebounds for the fifth time this season was sophomore Maleha Motter (Danville, Ind.). Motter finished with nine points and 10 rebounds.
The Panthers (6-4) found themselves in an early hole, conceding the first seven points to the Polar Bears (9-1) over the opening 1:10 of play. Hanover climbed back to within two points, 7-5, but ultimately found themselves down 17-12 after the first quarter.
A layup from junior Morgan Bivins (Bloomington, Ind.) capped a 6-0 scoring spurt for HC, giving the Blue and Red its first lead of the game, 24-22, with 4:33 remaining before halftime. Bivins scored all four of her points in the first half.
Still leading by one point in the closing seconds of the half, ONU drained a pair of three pointers, including one at the buzzer, to capture a 36-31 advantage at the intermission.
The Polar Bears led for the entire second half and used a 13-7 scoring run to capture its largest lead of the contest, 10 points, at 53-43 with 1:00 left in the third period. Despite outshooting ONU in the third quarter, HC still found itself down eight points, 55-47, heading into the final stanza.
Hanover did record the final two points of the third period and the first four of the final frame to close the gap to 55-51. Ohio Northern however, pushed its lead back out to as many as seven points over the final eight minutes.
The Panthers rallied to pull within three points, 63-60, after a layup from Nall with 52 seconds remaining. After forcing a stop on defense, Hanover had an open three-point attempt in transition, but the try went long. The nationally-ranked Polar Bears made four free throws over the final 14 seconds to secure the 67-60 victory.
Ohio Northern used its size advantage up front to enjoy a 47-36 edge on the boards. Despite conceding 15 offensive rebounds, HC only trailed 7-5 in second chance points Friday afternoon.
Each side finished with a .368 shooting clip, with the Panthers making 21-of-57 field goals. Both teams also made four tries from long range, while HC added a 14-for-18 effort at the charity stripe.
Hanover will now face either Wittenberg, the tournament host, or Susquehanna (Pa.) in the Holiday Classic consolation game Saturday, Dec. 30, at noon.
Contact: Tyler Jester