TIFFIN, Ohio - After trailing by around 10 for the majority of the game, Tiffin rallied late in the second-half to cut the deficit to one with 3:17 to play but could not come all the way back as Hillsdale escaped with a 78-71 victory on Saturday afternoon.
The Dragons fall to 2-5 overall and 0-2 in the G-MAC, with both conference losses coming to teams picked first and second in the preseason poll.
Joshua Williams got the scoring started for TU, draining a triple on the Dragons' first possession, but Tiffin went cold after that, falling behind 10-3 and later 21-11. Hillsdale kept the lead around 10 for the remainder of the first-half, going into the break with a 41-31 lead.
The Chargers would still lead by 12, 62-50, with 6:21 left to play, but Tiffin's full-court pressure finally got to Hillsdale and helped instigate a 13-2 run that brought the Dragons within one. It started with a Williams layup and two free throws from Thomas Hickman, followed by a triple from Hickman. After Hillsdale converted a pair of free throws, Terrell Mabins and Williams drained back-to-back threes to make it 64-63 in favor of the Chargers with 3:17 left on the clock.
Tiffin had a chance to take the lead after forcing a Charger turnover, but a missed jumper by Williams gave the ball back to Hillsdale. Two free throws and a three-pointer pushed the Chargers' lead back up to six, 69-63, but Mabins responded with a deep three from the corner to cut the deficit back to a one-possession game at 69-66 with just over a minute to play.
That was as close as Tiffin would come, though, as Hillsdale went 5-6 from the charity stripe in the final minute to hang on to the seven-point victory.
The teams shot incredibly similar in all aspects, with Hillsdale holding a 50.0%-49.1% advantage from the field, 38.9%-35.3% from deep, and 78.9%-73.3% from the free throw line.
Individually, four Dragons were in double figures, led by Williams and Shane Waldon with 19 points apiece. Mabins added 13 and Hickman 10, while Hickman recorded career-highs in rebounds (6) and assists (3) off the bench.
The Dragons continue their five-game conference-opening homestand with Kentucky Wesleyan on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.