Panthers tame Grizzlies for title shot

Hanover College’s women’s basketball squad will play for the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference’s tournament championship for the sixth consecutive year. The Panthers defeated Franklin College, 92-83, in the HCAC semifinals in Lexington, Ky.

Junior guard Alicia Hopkins (Columbus, Ind.) and freshman guard Jessie Davidson (Lexington, Ind.) scored 22 points apiece to spark Hanover (17-9). Junior forward Caitlin Bischoff (Atlanta, Ind.) chipped in 13 points.

The Panthers will tangle with tournament host Transylvania University (Ky.) at 2 p.m., Sunday, March 2, in Lexington, Ky. This marks the third time in the past four seasons that Hanover has played the Pioneers in the Heartland Conference’s title game.

Hanover blistered the nets in the first half against Franklin. The Panthers shot 67.7 percent from the field (21-of-31) and hit 8-of-12 three-pointers (66.7%) while opening a 53-39 lead at the half.

Davidson scored 13 points and Hopkins added 12 to ignite the first-period attack.

Franklin (14-13) trimmed the margin to three points (63-60) eight minutes into the second half. The Panthers, however, used a three-pointer from sophomore guard Ashley Malloy (Salem, Ind.) and inside buckets by Davidson, sophomore guard Kelsey Block (Madison, Ind.) and junior forward Megan Caudill (Richmond, Ind.) to drive the cushion to 74-61 with 8:30 on the clock.

The Grizzlies pulled within 82-74 in the final five minutes, but Bischoff drained a three-pointer and Hopkins hit four straight free throws to keep Hanover on top 89-79 with 1:20 to go.

Franklin was limited to a pair of short field goals down the stretch, while Davidson made 3-of-4 free throws, to lock up the Panthers' fourth win in the last six games against the Grizzlies.

Hanover finished with its second-highest field goal percentage of the season, making 32-of-59 (54.2%). The squad nailed a season-best 12 three-pointers (12-of-18) and hit 16-of-22 free throws (72.7%).

Franklin out-rebounded the Panthers by a 40-25 margin. Junior guard Shauna Watson (Fort Wayne, Ind.) led Hanover with five boards.

Lindsey Dall scored 21 points and Lexi Ingram had 17 to pace the Grizzlies, which shot 50 percent from the floor (31-of-62) and 12-of-16 from the charity stripe (75%).

Hanover vs. Franklin statistics