Panthers grab share of first behind Billups, Bass

Hanover College’s men’s basketball squad earned a share of first place in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference standings with a 67-63 win against Defiance College (Ohio) in Collier Arena.

Sophomore forward V.J. Billups (Jeffersonville, Ind.) scored a career-high 18 points and junior guard Tim Bass (Indianapolis, Ind.) also had 18 to spark Hanover, now 7-4 overall and 3-1 in the Heartland Conference.

Senior forward Jacob Rieger (Cold Springs, Ky.) netted a season-best 11 points and freshman pivot Corey Muchmore (Cincinnati, Ohio) added 10 for the Panthers, which have won six of the past seven outings against the Yellow Jackets.

Ryan Hicks scored a game-high 25 points for Defiance, which slipped to 8-3 overall and 3-1 in the HCAC with the setback.

The Yellow Jackets led by as many as seven points in the opening half (20-13). Muchmore scored six points and Billups netted five as Hanover trimmed the margin to 30-28 at the break.

Billups tallied seven points and Rieger added five as the Panthers tipped off the second period with a 16-7 run to bolt into a 44-37 lead with 14 minutes left in the contest.

Billups, Rieger and Muchmore each scored from inside to nudge the cushion to nine points (56-47) with 6:51 left and Bass converted from under the hoop and followed with a long three-pointer to help drive the margin to 63-52 with 4:10 on the clock.

The Panthers, working the clock, came up empty on four straight trips down the court in the final two minutes. Defiance used the drought to creep within 65-63 with 12 seconds left.

Junior Kyle James (Indianapolis, Ind.) landed a pair of free throws with 11 seconds to go and Hanover’s defense limited the Yellow Jackets to a long three-point attempt in the closing seconds to seal the win.

Hanover finished 28-of-48 from the field (56.5%) and hit 7-of-12 free throws (58.3%).

The Panthers outscored Defiance 42-24 in the paint and earned a 30-19 advantage on the boards. Rieger and James snagged six rebounds apiece to pace Hanover on the glass.

Defiance shot at a 50 percent clip (23-of-46), including seven three-pointers. The Yellow Jackets were 10-of-14 from the foul line (71.4%).

Hanover vs. Defiance (Ohio) statistics