HANOVER, Ind. – Sophomore Maleha Motter (Danville, Ind.) broke the single season program record for total rebounds and the Hanover women's basketball team defeated Earlham at home Tuesday evening, 69-58, to advance to the HCAC Tournament Semifinals this weekend.
Motter entered Tuesday 13 rebounds shy of breaking the 10-year-old record held by Molly Martin (289). As the clock struck 1:00 remaining in the fourth quarter, the sophomore snatched her 13th rebound on the offensive glass to secure the record. She finished with a game high 14, giving her 291 rebounds for the season.
Motter also tallied a team high 19 points, including 12 in the second half. The sophomore made 5-of-11 field goal attempts but did most of her damage at the foul line, where she went 8-for11.
Adding 15 points and eight rebounds was sophomore Alexis Nall (Mount Vernon, Ind.). Nall netted 7-of-8 field goal attempts, as she currently holds the single season program record for field goal percentage, .585.
Juniors Macy Walker (Indianapolis, Ind.) and Claire Cromer (Wabash, Ind.) pitched in the with nine and eight points, respectively. The two each recorded three rebounds and two assists as well. Leading Hanover in helpers for the fourth time in five games was sophomore Brooke Todd (Vevay, Ind.), who posted four assists. Todd also led the squad in steals with three.
Leading by one-point midway through the opening quarter, Hanover finished the frame on a 14-2 run, including the final nine points, to take a 23-10 lead. The Blue and Red made 9-of-15 attempts from the field, 60 percent, while holding the Quakers to a .313 shooting clip over the first 10 minutes of play.
Earlham (7-19) opened the second quarter with a three-pointer, but the Panthers responded with the game's next 10 points, extending their advantage to 20 points, 33-13, with 4:41 left before intermission. Hanover led by as many as 21 points in the opening half, 36-15, which would be its largest lead of the game. Behind 23 combined points, on 9-of-13 shooting, from Cromer, Motter and Nall, HC led 39-21 at the break.
The Quakers scored 14 of the first 18 points in the second half to close the gap to single digits with a little less than four minutes to go in the third quarter. Hanover however, was able to push its advantage back to 11 points, 55-44, by the end of the period.
Again, Earlham was able to close within nine points at the start of the fourth, but the Panthers answered back with a 7-0 scoring spurt to take a 62-46 lead with 5:43 remaining. The 16-point advantage would tie for the team's largest over the final six minutes, as HC stymied any threat of a comeback with its fifth straight win over the Quakers.
Despite a cold shooting fourth quarter, Hanover still outshot Earlham, .455 to .393. The Panthers did make 10-of-14 free attempts in the second half to finish the game at 15-for-21, 71.4 percent.
The Blue and Red will return to the HCAC Tournament Semifinals for the first time since 2014-15, and a win Friday would tie that squad and the current one for the most victories in any of the past four seasons, 19.
Hanover will square off with the weekend host and No. 1 seed, Rose-Hulman, with a chance to play for the conference tournament championship on the line. The Panthers and Engineers will tip off Friday, Feb. 23, at approximately 6:30 p.m., following Hanover men's basketball's 4 p.m. semifinal game. The winner of the HC-RHIT contest will face the No. 2 or 3 seed, Transylvania or Bluffton, in the championship round Saturday, Feb. 24.
Contact: Tyler Jester