Tiffin University's women's basketball team looked to be in trouble Thursday night at the Gillmor Center.
Despite leading by as many as nine points in the first half and by six, 31-25, at the break, TU found itself in a four-minute scoreless streak, and was trailing 46-39 after a 13-0 run by Hillsdale with about eight minutes left.
This did not sit well with the Dragon players. They defeated the Chargers three times last season, including once in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament. And despite the fact that Hillsdale usually is a tough team, it is struggling this season. It came in just 4-7, 1-7.
"I think that we just knew we had to pull it out," TU guard Stephanie Kelly said. "Every time that we went in those huddles ... any time the ball was dead, we were like 'We've got to pick this up. We've got to have some energy, because we are not losing to this team.'"
And, thanks to big-time performances from Kelly and a pair of teammates, the Dragons did not.
Kelly had 13 points, six rebounds, seven assists and was 6 of 6 at the foul line. Jessica Harris was tenacious, with 17 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks.
Tiffin 68, Hillsdale 53
Hillsdale (4-8, 1-8): Angela Bisaro 0-2-2; Megan Fogt 11-1-23; Lea Jones 2-0-5; Ashlyn Landherr 1-2-5; Marissa DeMott 0-0-0; Chelsea Farrell 1-0-2; Sarah Theut 2-1-5; Madison Berry 1-1-3; Brooke Borowski 0-0-0; Kayla Geffert 2-3-8; Kadie Lowery 0-0-0. Totals: 20-10-53.
Tiffin (7-6, 4-5): Jessica Harris 4-7-17; Jillian Adams 0-0-0; Mackenzie Storlie 0-1-1; Stephanie Kelly 3-6-13; Melissa Gilliland 3-0-6; Mary Kate Campbell 4-1-9; Jordan Fraley 7-1-22; Macy Byrd 0-0-0; Jessica Farr 0-0-0; Erca Mathis 0-0-0. Totals: 22-16-68.
Halftime: Tiffin 31-25.
Field goals: Hillsdale 20-63; Tiffin 22-57.
3-point goals: Hillsdale 3-14 (Landherr 1-3, Geffert 1-3, Jones 1-2, Theut 0-2, Farrell 0-1); Tiffin 8-19 (Fraley 7-8, Kelly 1-5, Gilliland 0-3, Storlie 0-2, Byrd 0-1).
Foul shots: Hillsdale 10-16; Tiffin 16-27.
Rebounds: Hillsdale 38 (Fogt 7); Tiffin 50 (Harris 16, Kelly 6).
Turnovers: Hillsdale 17; Tiffin 20.
Assists: Hillsdale 12 (Jones 4); Tiffin 19 (Kelly 7).
Hillsdale might have been able to withstand those efforts, but the Chargers had no answer for freshman Jordan Fraley, who made seven 3-pointers, finished with a team-high 22 points, and added five rebounds. She, along with Kelly and Harris, made a number of big plays down the stretch as the Dragons dominated late and beat Hillsdale, 68-53.
"I just felt good," Fraley said. "I just had some open looks, got great passes from my teammates and just let them fly."
Fraley's biggest shot came with 4:10 left in regulation. The Dragons were holding a 51-50 lead. Mackenzie Storlie had the ball, and found Fraley on the right wing. Fraley nailed the trey. It turned into an 11-0 run that essentially put the game away.
"It's not really pressure anymore," Fraley said. "I know what I have to do."
So did Harris, who played a physical 30 minutes. She had two steals and was 7 of 9 from the free throw line.
"I knew (the Chargers) weren't just gonna give us the win," Harris said. "I knew we had to fight just as hard if not harder to get the win."
Mary Kate Campbell had nine points off the bench for TU.
"We've been able to have different people step up in different ways," Tiffin coach Pam Oswald said after her team improved to 7-6, 4-5. "It's good to see, but it's a constant thing that we're trying to teach, of being able to have somebody down, and get that lead and build upon that lead."
Megan Fogt had 23 points and seven rebounds for the Chargers.