BENCH POWER: Hanover’s bench enjoys the latter stages of Wednesday’s 68-55 win over Mount St. Joseph and for good reason, the Panthers’ non-starters outscored the Lions 40-14 for the game including game highs of 14 points and 10 rebounds by Maleha Motter (left center) and a dozen points by Audrey Wetzel (right center), who are surrounded by Julia Miller (left) and Morgan Bivins (right). (Staff photo by Mark Campbell)
BENCH POWER: Hanover’s bench enjoys the latter stages of Wednesday’s 68-55 win over Mount St. Joseph and for good reason, the Panthers’ non-starters outscored the Lions 40-14 for the game including game highs of 14 points and 10 rebounds by Maleha Motter (left center) and a dozen points by Audrey Wetzel (right center), who are surrounded by Julia Miller (left) and Morgan Bivins (right). (Staff photo by Mark Campbell)
Hanover College started slow in its final home game of the season and allowed Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference back-marker Mount St. Joseph to hang around until halftime. But the Panthers wasted no time in burying the visitors in the second half of a 68-55 women’s basketball win on Wednesday at Collier Arena.

“We didn’t handle their pressure very well and we turned the ball over way too many times,” Hanover coach John Jones said. “But give them credit, they were playing with nothing to lose and they were all over us and we just couldn’t handle that pressure on our guards.”

Mount (2-22, 1-16 HCAC) managed to build a 22-17 lead just over a minute into the second quarter, but that’s when Hanover (13-11, 11-6 HCAC) used a 21-7 run to overtake the visitors and seize control of the game.

Hanover tied the game at 28-28 on a layup by freshman Katie Hartman of Madison with 3:02 left in the first half, took the lead for good (30-29) on a layup by freshman Kristin Mills of Cincinnati with 2:19 left and steadily pulled away from Mount the rest of the way.

Hanover led 33-29 at halftime after Maleha Motter, a freshman from Danville, sank the second of her two first half 3-pointers with 1:19 left and then jumped ahead by seven (36-29) when Allison Nash, a junior from Speedway, drained a trey to open the third quarter. Four minutes into the second half the Hanover lead was into double digits and the Panthers led by as many as 15 in the fourth quarter en route to the 13-point win.

“Yeah, we were a little stagnant, but the biggest thing for me is we were down on the rebounds at halftime and we end up winning that by 10,” Jones said. “And we shoot 50 percent from the field and that’s pretty good. We’ll take that anytime.”

Better rebounding and fastbreak points ended up fueling the Hanover victory and much of that came by way of the huge lift provided by Jones’ deep bench where Hanover outscored the Lions 40-14.

“When we got it past them that was the whole thing. Tempo was our number one concern tonight,” Jones said, noting that when Hanover broke the Mount press it pretty much resulted in a layup. “With eight players on their team and 17 on mine we had to get the tempo up there. We’ve got a deep team. It’s a great problem to have.”

Hanover’s top three scorers — and three of the Panthers’ four players in double digits — were freshmen coming off the bench. Motter led all scorers with 14 and 10 rebounds for her sixth double-double of the season while classmates Audrey Wetzel scored a dozen and Mills had 11.

Add to that the starters — a 10-point night by Nash, nine points Brooke Todd, a freshman from Vevay, and seven points by Hartman — and it was just too balanced of an attack for Mount to overcome.

Jones noted that four of those five players have produced big games in the past but the emergence of Mills as an offensive threat was a huge development.

“I was real proud of Kristen Mills tonight. She had a great week of practice and she comes out tonight with 11 points in 22 minutes. That’s more points and minutes that she normally has and I thought she did a great job off the bench for us,” Jones said. “But that’s what she can do and that’s why we recruited her. She’s a good shooter who was struggling at the beginning of the year but she’s coming around.”

The win was Hanover’s third straight at home and kept the Panthers, who had clinched a spot in the HCAC playoffs with a road win on Saturday, in a position to earn a home game in the opening round of the postseason tourney.

Hanover is currently fourth in the conference but must still visit conference runner-up Bluffton on Saturday. And with a one game lead on both Defiance and Franklin, a Hanover win or a loss by either the Yellow Jackets or Grizzlies should give the Panthers a home opener before the tourney shifts to conference champion Rose-Hulman for the semifinals and championship.

“We’re controlling our positioning. It all depends on whether it’s a three-way tie with Defiance and Franklin — we lose out on those tie-breakers,” Jones said. “But if we can get to 12 wins we’re definitely going to play at home and if we can be at 11 wins and only one other team at 11 with us we can be playing at home. It’s really going to come down to the last game. This was the big one for our girls.”

Hanover closes out the regular season Saturday in an HCAC doubleheader at Bluffton. The women tip-off at 1 p.m. with the men to follow.

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WEDNESDAY’S WOMEN’S BOXSCORE

at Hanover

HANOVER 68, MOUNT ST. JOSEPH 55



MOUNT 16 13 15 11 — 55

HANOVER 15 18 19 16 — 68



MOUNT ST. JOSEPH (2-22, 1-16 HCAC) — (g)Studer 17, )f)Townsend 10, Brown 7, (g)Sturwold 6, (g)Burchard 5, Hudson 5, (f)Wannemacher 3, Fairfield 2, Susong 0.

HANOVER (13-11, 11-6 HCAC) — Motter 14, Wetzel 12, Mills 11, (g)Nash 10, (g)Todd 9, (g)Hartman 7, Walker 3, (f) Nall 2, (g)Kallmeyer 0, Cromer 0.



3-Point Goals — Mount St. Joseph 5 (Wannemacher 1, Studer 1, Sturwold 1, Hudson 1, Brown 1), Hanover 10 (Mills 3, Todd 2, Motter 2, Hartman 1, Nash 1, Walker 1). Rebounds — Mount St. Joseph 34 (Hudson 8), Hanover 45 (Motter 11). Assists — Mount St. Joseph 12 (Studer 7), Hanover 19 (Walker 4, Cromer 4). Free Throws — Mount St. Joseph 10-16, Hanover 6-14. Turnovers — Mount St. Joseph 11, Hanover 20. Steals — Mount St. Joseph 9 (Studer 9), Hanover 6 (Mills 2). Total Fouls — Mount St. Joseph 10, Hanover 16. Fouled Out — None.