After winning three of its last five games, the Lady Cardinals fell to Hillsdale University on Saturday night.
SVSU was up by two with 7:01 left in regulation, but the team wasn’t able to make a comeback after the Chargers made four 3-pointers within a three-minute time span, falling by a score of 71-59.
“When it was time to really decide who was going to win that game, Hillsdale made the plays to do it,” said head coach Jamie Pewinski.
The Lady Cardinals have now lost three of their last six and sit at 6-18 overall and 4-13 in the GLIAC. With the win, the Chargers improve to SVSU shot 45.3 percent from the field, 68.4 percent from the free-throw line, 18.2 percent from behind the arch and committed 21 turnovers.
“We don’t shoot an extremely high percentage anyways, and we tend to play a little slower at times,” Pewinski said. “You miss out on those possessions and you just don’t get yourself a really good chance to be able to win.”
The Lady Cardinals took the early lead before the two teams battled for the remainder of the half.
“In the first half, we were shooting OK, we were playing all right when we got shots, but we would go stretches where we would turn it over five or six times in a row, and you just have no chance of winning,” Pewinski said.
With 3:33 left in the half, freshmen forward Samantha Zirzow scored 10 points to bring the Cardinals to within four going into the half, 34-30.
“We’re putting a lot of pressure on her as a freshmen to really make plays for us and be someone offensively that we can count on,” Pewinski said. “In the last couple of weeks she’s really stepped up.”
Zirzow ended the night with a team-high 18 points.
After the break, the Lady Cardinals slowly battled their way back into the game.
With 9:07 left in regulation, junior center Grace Herzog made a layup that tied the game up for the first time since the first five minutes of the game.
“In the second half, I felt we did a little better of a job,” Pewinski said. “There’s just that stretch there where we lose focus, we don’t pay attention to what we’re doing and we make stupid turnovers.
“We’re not throwing it away, which helps a little bit, but it puts a lot of pressure on your defense to really get stops.”
The teams battled back and forth for three minutes before Hillsdale’s freshman guard Kadie Lowery sank a three-pointer to put the team up by five, 62-57.
In the next three minutes, Lowery sank two more threes and junior guard Leah Jones added one more, putting the Chargers up 71-59. Both Lowery and Jones ended the night with 12 points.
“The biggest part of that was number 14, Harrison, was really making plays for them,” Pewinski said. “She didn’t score a lot, but she did what seniors do – when someone’s trying to take away your points, you drive and make plays for your teammates, and that’s what she did.”
Unable to come back from this attack, the Lady Cardinals fell to the Chargers 72-63.
Pewinski said that while the team hasn’t learned how to knuckle down in close matchups, it is getting better.
“We haven’t been in this situation of a lot of close games. We haven’t been where we have a team on the ropes,” Pewinski said. “We have to have that knockout punch, but we don’t know how to do it.
“You have to play smarter, you have to play tougher, you have to really knuckle down and play better defense and not give the other team a chance.”
The Lady Cardinals will be back in action Thursday, Feb. 23, when head to the Upper Peninsula to face Michigan Tech. Tipoff is at 5:30 p.m.