Panthers claim sixth HCAC win in a row

Junior forward Caitlin Bischoff (Atlanta, Ind.) scored 19 points and grabbed six rebounds as the Hanover College women’s basketball team claimed its sixth straight Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference victory with a 79-66 win against Bluffton University (Ohio).

The Panthers' victory maintains a tie for second place in the Heartland Conference as the squad improves to 11-8 overall and 9-3 in the league.

Freshman guard Jessie Davidson (Lexington, Ky.) scored 17 points, reaching double-digits for the 10th straight game. Davidson was perfect from the free line on seven attempts, all late in the second half.

Junior guard Alicia Hopkins (Columbus, Ind.) spearheaded a Panther defense that forced 19 turnovers. Hopkins snared a game-high four steals to accompany 12 points and four assists.

Hopkins hit 7-of-9 from the charity stripe as the team shot a season-high 84.8 percent (28-of-33).

Hopkins and Bischoff combined for Hanover’s first 11 points as the team jumped out to a 11-2 lead at the 16:10 mark.

Davidson followed with a short jumper with 14:55 left in the half, building the lead to 13-2 before a Brooke Ruffer jumper in the lane sparked an 8-0 Beaver run.

Junior forward Megan Caudill (Richmond, Ind.) answered with a quick bucket and sophomore guard Ashley Malloy (Salem, Ind.) sank a three-pointer to spark a 23-8 Hanover run.

A Kelsey Block (Madison, Ind.) free throw put the Panthers up 36-18 with 3:39 remaining in the first period.

Taylor Whitaker scored five points in the final three minutes, but Hopkins sank four free throws during the same period to curtail the Bluffton rally.

An Anna Hairston three-pointer cut the Hanover lead to 41-27 at intermission.

The Beavers struck first in the second half with a Brooke Ruffer jumper cutting the Panther lead to 41-29 at the 18:54 mark.

Ruffer would score 20 of her game-high 26-points in the second half, but Hanover maintained a double-digit lead for the rest of the contest.

Davidson countered Ruffer’s scoring outburst with 15 second-half points of her own as the Panthers avenged a January 11th loss.

Hanover won the battle of the boards with 43-41 advantage. Senior center Elyse Weddle (Bloomfield, Ind.) led Hanover with seven.

Junior Shauna Watson (Fort Wayne, Ind.) turned in a strong statistical game from the point guard spot, tallying six points, five assists, three blocks, and three steals.

Malloy scored eight points off the bench, while Block added seven.

Ruffer also collected a game-high 14 rebounds as the Beavers fall to 11-8 and 7-5 in the HCAC.

Hanover vs. Bluffton (Ohio) statistics