Hanover's late rally at Wheaton falls short in championship of Beth Baker Classic

Alexis Nall

WHEATON, Ill. – The Hanover women's basketball team's late rally fell just short Saturday afternoon in the championship game of the Beth Baker Classic, as the Panthers fell to the host-school, Wheaton, 81-72.

Trailing by 20-plus points heading into the fourth quarter, Hanover shot 53 percent from the floor in the final period, while making six three-pointers, as they eventually pulled within six points, 72-66, with 3:36 left to play. Junior Alexis Nall (Mount Vernon, Ind.) had 10 of her team-high 22 points over the final 10 minutes, as she hit the trey to bring HC within six points. Nall also added eight rebounds and a team-high three steals defensively. Wheaton (2-1) though, converted on free throws down the stretch to help secure the home win for the Thunder, 81-72.

Junior Maleha Motter (Danville, Ind.) tallied her second double-double in as many games this season, recording 17 points and 13 rebounds. For her efforts, Motter was named to the all-tournament team, as she averaged 15.0 points and 14.5 rebounds over the two-game stretch. The junior set a tournament single-game record with 16 boards against Buena Vista (Iowa) Friday.

Pitching in with eight points off the bench was senior Avery Chezem (Loogootee, Ind.). Chezem did most of her damage last, as she netted a pair of three pointers in the fourth quarter. All five Hanover starters posted at least five points in the loss.

One bright spot for the Blue and Red was their performance at the charity stripe. The Panthers converted on all 19 attempts from the foul line, led by Nall's six-for-six effort. Junior Brooke Todd (Vevay, Ind.) was four-for-four from the line, as she finished with six points and a pair of steals.

Hanover started strong Saturday, taking its largest lead of the contest at 16-10, with 5:32 remaining in the opening quarter. The Thunder, who are receiving votes in the D3hoops.com national top 25 poll, rallied to tie the game at 19-all after 10 minutes of play.

Neither side was really able to get much going in terms of scoring to start the second stanza, as they were locked in a 24-24 stalemate with 4:46 left in the half. Wheaton though, closed half on a 16-6 run to enjoy a 40-30 lead at the break.

The Thunder then outscored HC 24-12 in the third quarter to help produce a 64-42 lead through 30 minutes of action.

Both sides netted nine shots from behind the arc, but it was Wheaton who shot over 50 percent overall. The Panthers did finish with a slim-margin in rebounding, 40-38, while the Thunder controlled the points in the paint, 34-18.

Hanover will look to bounce back next weekend with a pair of games at Wilmington (Ohio). The Panthers are slated to open the two-day tournament at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 24, against Centre (Ky.).

Contact: Tyler Jester