STRONG PLAY: Hanover junior Desmond Marks goes to the basket over Wabash’s Pete Nicksic during Wednesday’s game at Collier Arena. Marks had game-highs in points and rebounds with 17 and nine, respectively, to lead the Panthers to the 76-51 win. (Staff photo by David Campbell)
STRONG PLAY: Hanover junior Desmond Marks goes to the basket over Wabash’s Pete Nicksic during Wednesday’s game at Collier Arena. Marks had game-highs in points and rebounds with 17 and nine, respectively, to lead the Panthers to the 76-51 win. (Staff photo by David Campbell)
Wabash had the distinct size advantage, but it was Hanover that proved to have the muscle in a 76-51 men's basketball win Wednesday at Collier Arena.

The visiting Little Giants, who had won three-straight games in the series heading into the meeting, fielded a pair of 6-foot-7 players in the starting lineup and brought a 6-foot-9 player off the bench. Hanover, meanwhile, didn't have a player taller that 6-foot-6.

But that size difference mattered little to the Panthers. Hanover out-rebounded Wabash 41-36, forced the Little Giants into 16 turnovers and held the visitors to just 34 percent shooting in pulling away for the win.

"Our interior guys were what we need them to be in the second half," Hanover coach Jon Miller said. "To be a conference champion, to be an NCAA tournament-caliber team, we need them to play like they did today. I know our inside guys can do that, but they've got to go do it. We challenged them at halftime to be more that way and I think they really answered the call for us."

Desmond Marks, a 6-foot-5 junior from Bloomington, led Hanover with 17 points and nine rebounds but it was a team effort by all of the Panther bigs that led to the win.

Six-foot-five freshman Corey Muchmore and 6-foot-6 Evan Bingham also stood tall in the post. While neither scored much, both played a big part in neutralizing Wabash's size.

The Little Giants (0-2) had their way in the early part of the game. Determining to take Hanover's high-scoring guard trio of Tim Bass, Matt Wehner and Kyle James out of the game, Wabash left the interior open while concentrating its defense on the perimeter.

The ploy worked. Wabash jumped out to a 10-2 lead and led for much of the first half despite shooting only 28 percent (9-of-32) from the floor. Hanover, which had trouble adjusting to the defense, shot only 29 percent (9-of-31).

Hanover took its first lead on a pair of James free throws with 3:44 left in the first half and seized the lead for good on a huge 3-pointer by Bass right before halftime.

The Panthers had been held without a trey for most of the first half and not only did Bass' triple push Hanover ahead 26-24 at the break, but it kick-started a 17-0 run that blew open the game.

"I thought the big play of the game was Tim's shot right at the half," Miller said. "We had been struggling and Tim had been getting frustrated. I told him to give himself a rhythm dribble into that three and knock it in."

Hanover (2-0) made the adjustments it needed at halftime and outscored Wabash 50-27 in the second half to blow open the game.

Much of the credit for the Panthers' surge rests with the interior players, who began filling up the lane and creating open shots for the outside shooters. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Wehner lifted Hanover to a 40-24 lead less than five minutes into the second half and the rout was on.

"You start scoring in the post a little bit and they become more concerned about leaving their guys down there one-on-one," Miller said. "It has a tendency to open up a few more things for your shooters. Once we were able to get that perimeter pulled out, that creates more opportunities for Tim to drive it."

As Hanover pulled away, the frustration began to build for Wabash. The Little Giants were whistled for three technical fouls in the second half, part of an overwhelming 25-13 foul advantage enjoyed by the Panthers. Marks alone was 9-of-11 from the free-throw line and outshot Wabash (7-of-10) by himself.

Along with Marks, 6-foot-5 wing Michael Van Kleunen scored 13 points, Bass had 12 and James 10 to lead an effort that saw 10 different Panthers score on the night. It was the second-straight game that Hanover had four players reach double figures and Miller said that kind of balance can be a double-edged sword.

"It's great to have that balance but it's a challenge as a coach to figure out how to get those guys the minutes," Miller said. "We have more guys that can do things than we have minutes to give out. That's a challenge for guys. Everyone wants to play and you want them to want to play ... This is team has depth and sometimes that can be a blessing and a curse. But you'd rather have the depth than the other way around."

Hanover has a few days off before playing its third-straight home game against Blackburn (Ill.) in the annual John R. Collier Classic on Sunday. The Panthers then travel to Ohio Wesleyan on Nov. 30 before beginning conference season at home against Franklin on Dec. 4.

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WEDNESDAY'S MEN'S GAME

at Hanover

HANOVER 76, WABASH 51



WABASH (0-2) - (g)Sponsler 20, (f)Purvlicis 10, (f)Nicksic 6, Oetting 5, Hawn 3, (g)Aiton 3, Kammrath 2, Gross 2, Scofield 0, Chilton 0, Burton 0, Powell 0, Obertate 0, Wagner 0, (g)Ulrich 0, Ray 0.

HANOVER (2-0) - (c)Marks 17, (f)Van Kleunen 13, (g)Bass 12, (g)James 10, (f)Wehner 6, Billups 4, Bingham 4, Muchmore 4, Sparks 2, Crabtree 2, Black 2, Robinson 0, Rieger 0, Steinhart 0, Wagner 0.



Halftime - Hanover 26-24. 3-Point Goals - Wabash 4 (Sponsler 2, Hawn 1, Aiton 1), Hanover 4 (Bass 2, Wehner 2). Rebounds - Wabash 36 (Sponsler 7), Hanover 41 (Marks 9). Assists - Wabash 9 (Nicksic 3), Hanover 13 (Bass 5). Turnovers - Wabash 16, Hanover 10. Total Fouls - Wabash 25, Hanover 13. Free Throws - Wabash 7-10, Hanover 20-27. Fouled Out - Wabash: Kammrath. Technical Fouls - Wabash: Purvlicis, Oetting, Gross. Next Game - Hanover hosts Blackburn (Ill.) Sunday.