WHEATON, Ill. – Behind double-doubles from juniors Maleha Motter (Danville, Ind.) and Alexis Nall (Mount Vernon, Ind.), along with a strong second half, the Hanover women's basketball team began its season with a 69-64 win over Buena Vista in the opening round of the Beth Baker Classic Friday afternoon.
The Panthers, who trailed by three points at the intermission, outscored the Beavers (1-1) 44-36 in the second half en route to the victory. Nall paced the Panthers with 16 points, tallying eight in each half. The junior also grabbed 10 rebounds for her first double-double of the season.
Motter recorded 16 boards Friday, which set a new Beth Baker Classic, single game record. The junior added 13 points as well, giving HC the two double-double performances in the season opener. Motter and Nall combined for 19 double-doubles a season ago.
The Blue and Red faced its largest deficit of the game early in the second half at 35-29. Hanover though, rallied to tie the contest at 35-35 and eventually took its first lead of the half at 39-37, with 5:35 remaining in the third quarter.
After falling behind by six points, the Panthers doubled up Buena Vista 18-9 over a four-minute span to go in front 47-42. Hanover would take a 49-47 edge into the final 10-minute quarter.
The Beavers scored the opening basket of the fourth quarter before six unanswered points from the Panthers put them back in front, 55-50, with 7:38 left to play. Eventually, the Blue and Red lead would expand to eight points, 62-54, their largest advantage of the night. Junior Katie Hartman (Madison, Ind.) nailed a jumper to put the Panthers up eight with 2:57 to play. Hartman was the third Hanover player in double figures, as she scored 10 points on four-of-eight shooting.
Despite Buena Vista pulling within one point late, HC never relinquished the lead, as a contested layup from junior Brooke Todd (Vevay, Ind.) put the Panthers up 65-62 with 38.7 seconds showing on the clock. Motter added a putback and senior Avery Chezem (Loogootee, Ind.) netted a pair of free throws to secure the 69-64 victory.
Todd added eight points offensively, while Chezem poured in six off the bench. The pair also combined for three assists and three steals.
One of the keys to victory for Hanover was the charity stripe, where HC converted on 18-of-24 tries (.750). The Beavers on the other hand, made just 5-of-11 attempts, giving HC a 13-point edge from the foul line.
Hanover also forced 28 BVU giveaways, which they turned into a 22-11 advantage in points off turnovers. The Blue and Red had just 13 turnovers, which would have been their third lowest mark during the 2017-18 season.
Nall led the feisty Panther defense with three steals. Nine of the 11 players for HC recorded at least one steal, with five players tallying multiple swipes.
Hanover has advanced to the Beth Baker Classic championship, which will take place at 4 p.m. (ET), 3 p.m. (CT), Saturday, Nov. 17. The Panthers will face either Macalester (Minn.) or the host school, Wheaton (Ill.), in the tournament finals.
Contact: Tyler Jester