Written by Sports Information Student Assistant, Jake Sipes-Salter
HANOVER, Ind. - The Hanover women's basketball team will strive to keep their midseason success going as they engage in a pair of Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference clashes this week.
The Panthers will begin the week by hosting Franklin at 7 p.m., Wednesday, February 5, before trekking to face Earlham at 2 p.m., Saturday, February 8.
LAST WEEK IN REVIEW: Following victories over Mount St. Joseph and Manchester last week, the Blue and Red sit at 12-6 overall and are 11-1 in the HCAC. With wins in five straight and eight of their last nine, HC has played arguably their best stretch of basketball since the 2013-14 campaign, where they rattled off 10 consecutive wins. With their impressive play, HC remains second in the conference standings to Transylvania, who currently ranks seventh in NCAA Division III Women's Basketball.
Hanover began last week at MSJ, and after trailing early, the Panthers were able to close out a 77-52 victory. Senior Alexis Nall (Mount Vernon, Ind.) paced the pack with 25 points and nine rebounds, shooting 9-of-12 from the floor. Senior Kristin Mills (Cincinnati, Ohio) set her career-high single game points total, going for 17 in the triumph. Four members of the squad wound up in double figures, helping to balance the attack following a back-and-forth first period.
On Saturday, HC and Manchester battled it out, with the Spartans carrying a narrow lead into halftime. However, Hanover would ultimately prevail with the 80-64 victory. Mills led the Blue and Red with yet another personal-high in scoring, this time at 20 points. Senior Katie Hartman (Madison, Ind.) tallied 15 points and six rebounds, while Nall and junior Savannah Courtney (Lawrenceburg, Ky.) registered 14 points apiece. The glass would prove pivotal, with Nall, Courtney, and senior Brooke Todd (Vevay, Ind.) each corralling seven boards en route to a 41-26 advantage in rebounding.
NOTABLE STATISTICS: With back-to-back outings of collegiate-best scoring, Mills racked up 37 points while going 14-for-21 from the field last week. Among her highlights were a pair of made three pointers on consecutive Hanover possessions in the second quarter of the entanglement with the Lions. These critical treys aided HC in regaining the lead, which they commanded for the remainder of the contest. In her senior year, Mills is averaging bests in points per game (10.1), three point percentage (.373) and steals per game (1.4).
Nall has been one of the best shooters in all of Division III, ranking 24th at a .547 clip, which leads the HCAC. Nall has set the single season record for Hanover in field goal percentage in consecutive campaigns, most recently with a .591 mark set in the 2018-19 season. In addition to her efficiency, she ranks among the conference top five in points per game with a 16.8 average.
Todd is currently on pace for her best season average in assists per game at a rate of 3.9 per outing. At the present time, Todd has an assist to turnover ratio of 1.66, which is just outside the top 50 in DIII and is the best ratio in the HCAC. Todd has proven to be quite tactful with the ball, as she has notched a 2.0 ATO in back-to-back seasons. In addition, her 5.9 points per game are a collegiate-best.
As a unit, the Panthers rank 11th in DIII in three point field goal percentage at a clip of .360, which tops the conference. In addition, HC is amongst the top 60 in assist to turnover ratio (0.98) and assists per game (16.1).
SCOUTING FRANKLIN: The Franklin Grizzlies are 11-7 on the year with a 6-5 league slate. In recent action, the Grizzlies suffered a 66-56 defeat at the hands of Bluffton. Franklin has been hot on the road at 6-2, and will come into Collier Arena facing a Hanover team that has a perfect 6-0 mark at home this year. Over the last two years, HC has claimed victory in 16 of 17 home bouts, with their lone loss coming to Transylvania last January.
In their last head-to-head match, the Panthers garnered a 70-58 triumph. Nall and Hartman each had 14 points, with Nall corralling 15 boards for HC. Four of five starters were in double figures, and as a squad the Panthers outdid the Grizzlies 32-22 on points in the paint.
SCOUTING EARLHAM: The Earlham Quakers are currently 5-14 overall and 4-8 in the HCAC, with an impending matchup against Transylvania at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 5. Junior Kayla Bowling leads the Quakers in scoring with 9.4 points per game.
In their clash on January 18, the Blue and Red came away with a 69-50 win. Nall had 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting and added seven rebounds. Mills led the unit with eight boards and added 12 points. The Panthers were particularly sharp in the passing game, as they dished 24 dimes on 26 made field goals.