Anthony Hilliard entered Saturday’s game to help Dalton State College’s basketball team on defense.
He did a few things for the Roadrunners’ offense, too.
The junior scored 20 points off the bench and helped Dalton State win its fourth straight game with a 95-82 victory against South Carolina’s Voorhees College in the second day of the two-day Roadrunners’ Founders Club Classic.
Trailing 9-4 with 16:26 on the first half clock, Hilliard subbed in for Preston Earle to guard Josh Corry, who had already made a pair of 3-pointers for the Tigers (4-3). Not until the 13:03 mark did Hilliard ignite Dalton State (8-1).
“We put him in to defend (Corry),” Dalton State coach Tony Ingle said, “and then he got hot on offense.”
Trailing 15-7, Hilliard sank a 3-pointer from the corner. He did it again to tie the game 21-21 at 8:33 and a third time in the half for a 30-26 advantage with 6:22 on the clock.
The guard sank two free throws and made another field goal, finishing the half with 13 points. The home team entered halftime on a 15-4 run for a 48-35 lead as Hilliard assisted Dylan Smith for a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.
“I came in to be the spark of the team,” Hilliard said. “That’s all. I just wanted to get the team into it.”
Hilliard didn’t leave the game until the 11:06 mark of the second half. By then, Dalton State held a 69-43 lead. Galen Smith’s layup gave the Roadrunners their biggest lead of the game, 72-51, with 9:30 left.
Hilliard said his sharp shooting — and his teammates’ copying — changed the game
“It got (Voorhees) to start rushing on offense,” Hilliard said. “They were trying to go back and forth with us, and they started taking bad shots and we started getting fast breaks.”
Toward the end of the game, Dalton State turned the ball over against Voorhees’ press and allowed too many offensive rebounds. The Tigers forced 18 turnovers by the Roadrunners and grabbed as many offensive rebounds. The Roadrunners only forced 16 turnovers and grabbed six offensive rebounds.
Voorhees cut the lead to 80-72 with 4:36 left on Alan Dantzler’s offensive rebound — from his own missed free throw — and layup. That was part of a five-point possession for the Tigers, who were led by Dantzler’s game-high 35 points, 13 rebounds and 17-for-19 performance on free throws. The Roadrunners secured a win with Ricky Sears’ 3-pointer on the next possession.
Sears led Dalton State with 24 points, and point guard Sean Tate made 10 of 12 free throws and finished with 17 points.
In Dalton State’s first season since 1978, Ingle said he didn’t expect to win eight of the first nine games.
“The kids will compete,” Ingle said. “We’re small. We don’t have a lot of depth. But we will compete.”
Dalton State made shot 46.2 percent on 3-pointers and 44.1 percent from the field. The Roadrunners finished 31-for-44 on free throws.
Cumberland University won 93-89 against Morris College just before Dalton State’s triumph. Alex Flash led Cumberland with 26 points.