By RJ Walters / Daily News Sports Editor
An exclusive Walters ‘n Words blog
In Thursday’s edition of the HDN I said I’m completely confident the Charger men’s basketball team will finally advance past the first round of the GLIAC Tourney.
Thursday’s suave little 75-74 escape in Northern Michigan didn’t sway my view one way or another — it just means Hillsdale is finally getting the bounces as opposed to the opposition getting one last roll. And I’m okay with that.
The most impressive stat is that the win marked the sixth time this season the Chargers have fought back from a halftime deficit to pull a win and on Thursday that margin was 11.
Also, Tony G. continued to tower above opponents, somewhat circa 2007-08, with 30 points, 16 boards and three blocks. Sure Katie Cezat scoffed at what she would call”just another game”, but points in the paint and rebounding is an essential the Chargers must utilize to keep this season alive.
Northern is far from the creme De la creme of the GLIAC, but they are pretty much on par with the Northwood’s of this league and also have a win over Ferris State this season, a possible first-round matchup for Hillsdale.
If Keith MacKenzie can just finish out the year shooting the ball a high percentage, while keep his turnovers low and Gugino can make the Chargers an inside-outside monster I like what the fruits of their labor might be.
Here’s the entire game wrap from Hillsdale College Sports Information:
An offensive rebound-layup by seven-foot senior Chris Skaggs gave the Hillsdale College men’s basketball team a remarkable 75-74 victory Thursday night over Northern Michigan University in Marquette.
The come-from-behind victory pushes the Chargers’ record to 13-10 overall and 11-8 in the GLIAC. Hillsdale remains in second place in the South Division and in control of its own destiny to host a first-round conference tournament game.
Skaggs used his seven-foot frame and long arms to grab a rebound off a missed shot by Keith MacKenzie, and gently laid the ball in off the backboard with 1.1 seconds left to give the Chargers the lead. NMU was unable to get a shot off with such little time remaining, giving Hillsdale an escape-type victory on the road.
The Chargers trailed by 11 points at halftime, giving them their sixth win this season when trailing after 20 minutes. Hillsdale did a much better job at exploiting its matchup advantages in the second half, and carrying that load was senior center Tony Gugino, who had his finest game of the season.
Although he fouled out of the game with 2:03 left, Gugino finished with 30 points, 16 rebounds and three blocked shots. Twenty of his points and eight of his rebounds came in a second half that saw Hillsdale outscore Northern Michigan 43-31.
The Wildcats specialize in the 3-point shot, and used that along with their sound execution on offense to build an 11-point halftime lead. After shooting 52 percent in the first half, NMU shot just 34 percent in the second half, while the Chargers shot 54 percent in the final 20 minutes.
The Wildcats led in the first half by as many as 15 points, but Hillsdale wasted little time in making the game close in the second half. A 14-2 Hillsdale run in the first six minutes of the second half was sparked by eight points from Gugino and a pair of three-point plays by junior Luke Laser. That made it a 48-46 game with 13 minutes remaining, and the nailbiting began from there.
NMU was able to hold on to the lead until a Gugino layup gave the Chargers their first lead of the contest with 3:40 left in the second half. In an amazing run of scores and stops, neither team led by more than one point in any part of the game’s final three minutes. It would be Skaggs who made the final swing in the lead, giving Hillsdale a tough win on the road.
Laser had 11 points and four rebounds for Hillsdale, while freshman Brad Guinane played a strong game off the bench, making all three of his shots, scoring 10 points in 12 minutes on the court. Skaggs was 4-for-5 from the field and had eight points in the win.