Panthers open final week of regular season at MSJ

Brooke Todd

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HANOVER, Ind. – The Hanover women's basketball team will open the final week of the regular season on the road, with a mid-week trip to Cincinnati, Ohio.

The Panthers (15-8, 11-5 HCAC) will conclude the road portion of their regular season schedule at Mt. St. Joseph (10-13, 6-10 HCAC), tipping off at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 14.

COVERAGE:  LIVE STATS  |  HCAC TIEBREAKER GUIDELINES

WINNING WAYS OF LATE: Hanover is hitting its stride at the right time, as the team enters the final week of the regular season winners of three straight and in eight of its last 11 overall, securing a spot no worse than No. 4 in next week's HCAC Tournament. During the current three-game winning streak, HC is averaging 77.0 points per game and outscoring its opponents by an average margin of 20.7 points per contest. The Panthers however, will have to take its winning ways on the road for the first time during the current streak, as they are 7-6 away from Collier Arena this season.

DEFENSE DOMINATING: The Blue and Red recently produced their best defensive scoring effort in seven years, conceding just 34 points to Manchester last Saturday. The Panthers held the Spartans to a 16.9 field goal percentage, as they held an opponent to under 35 points for the first time since Jan. 19, 2011, a 59-30 win over Rose-Hulman. Hanover, who is experiencing its best defensive scoring performance under third year head coach John Jones, has held its last seven opponents to under 70 points.

STEALERS BE SWIPING: Hanover is averaging 11.0 steals per game this season, which leads the HCAC and is also among the nation's best. Sophomore Maleha Motter (Danville, Ind.) and junior Claire Cromer (Wabash, Ind.) rank sixth and 11th, respectively, in the HCAC in steal per game, 2.0 and 1.7. Motter has a game with seven swipes this season, while Cromer's recorded four steals twice.

NALL NAILING SHOTS: Entering Wednesday, sophomore Alexis Nall (Mount Vernon, Ind.) has the best single season field goal percentage in program history at .565. The current record, with a minimum of 200 field goals attempted, belongs to Andrea Spurgeon, who shot 55.6 percent from the field in the 1999-00 season. Nall is averaging a team high 13.3 points per game this year and her overall shooting clip ranks 15th nationally.

MOTTER NEARING SINGLE SEASON REBOUND RECORD: Motter, who is currently 44 rebounds shy of breaking the school record for rebounds in a season, 289 by Molly Martin (2008-09), is the only player in the HCAC to average a double-double in 2017-18. The sophomore is accumulating 13.2 points and a conference-best 10.7 rebounds per game. With three guaranteed games left to play, counting the HCAC Tournament Opening Round, Motter would need to average 14.7 rebounds per game, a mark she has surpassed six times this season.

HANOVER HAS HCAC'S TOP OFFENSE: Hanover is the only team in the HCAC to have a scoring offense over 70 points this season, as they are averaging 72.7 points per game. The Panthers have surpassed their season scoring average 12 times this season, posting an 11-1 record when scoring 73 or more points. The Blue and Red have also tallied 80 or more points in eight games in 2017-18.

THE SERIES WITH MSJ: The Panthers have won three straight and eight of the last 10 against the Lions, holding a 19-4 record since 2006. Earlier this season, the two sides played in a 99-90, double-overtime thriller, a game that saw HC outscore MSJ 15-6 in the second extra period to come out on top. The last time the Blue and Red traveled to Cincinnati, which was Jan. 11, 2017, they picked up a 71-52 victory.

UP NEXT: Hanover will return home to close out the regular season against Defiance at 1 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 17. The Panthers will be looking to honor their three seniors with a win, while the Yellow Jackets, as of now, will be fighting for one of the final two spots in the HCAC Tournament.

Contact: Tyler Jester

jestert@hanover.edu