Hopkins sets theft mark as Panthers roar back

For the fourth time this season, Hanover College’s women’s basketball team overcame a double-digit deficit to earn a victory. The Panthers trailed Bluffton University (Ohio) by 15 points before rallying to post a 73-66 win, Saturday, Feb. 9, in Bluffton, Ohio.

Sophomore guard Alicia Hopkins (Columbus, Ind.) led Hanover with a game-high 17 points and tallied four steals to reestablish her Hanover single-season record with 97.

Sophomore guard Megan Caudill (Richmond, Ind.) matched her career high with 12 points and senior forward Courtney Prater (Anderson, Ind.) added 14 for the Panthers, now 17-6 overall and 11-5 in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference.

The victory marks Hanover’s ninth in a row against Bluffton, which slipped to 11-12 overall and 6-10 in the league.

The Panthers have trailed by double-digits in eight games this season and rallied to win in four of the last five of those outings.

The Beavers, which shot 50 percent from the floor in the first half (14-of-28), raced to a 29-14 lead with seven minutes left in the first period.

Hopkins, who had 93 steals as a freshman, scored 11 of her points as Hanover closed the half with a 21-9 run to pull within 38-35 at the intermission.

Prater scored from inside and sophomore guard Shauna Watson (Fort Wayne, Ind.) added a pair of free throws to nudge the Panthers ahead 39-38 three minutes into the second period.

The squads were knotted at 40-40 before Hanover mounted a 13-4 burst to grab a 53-44 lead with 12 minutes to play. Caudill and freshman guard Ashley Malloy (Salem, Ind.) each had a bucket and a three-pointer to fuel the run.

The Panthers stretched the margin to 11 points (63-52) with seven minutes on the clock, but Bluffton used a 12-6 burst to creep within five points (69-64) with two minutes to go.

The Beavers, however, hit just 1-of-6 field goal attempts in the final two minutes, while Watson hit 4-of-6 free throws through the span to secure the win.

Bluffton hit only 8-of-32 field goals in the second half (25%) and finished the game 22-of-60 (36.7%).

Hanover, meanwhile, was limited to 33.9 percent shooting (19-of-56), but had eight three-pointers and outscored the Beavers, 27-17, from the foul line.

Brenna Kurilec scored 15 points to lead Bluffton. Kylee Burkholder grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds and Brooke Ruffer had 11 to help the Beavers earn a 44-40 advantage on the glass.

Hanover at Bluffton (Ohio) statistics