ALMA, Mich. – For the first time since 2009-10, the Defiance women's basketball team grabbed a victory in its season opener, as it downed the Alma Scots 78-65 on Wednesday, November 20. Kelsey Tietje was the driving force in the win, as the freshman chalked up 24 points, 11 boards and a pair of blocks in her first collegiate contest.
After the Scots posted the first points of the game with a layup, Senior Hannah Harshman (Ohio City, Ohio/Parkway) laid in the first bucket of the year for the Yellow Jackets just over two minutes into play that tied things up at 2-2.
From there, the Purple and Gold offense got going and went on an early run. A layup from Tietje (Deshler, Ohio/Patrick Henry) put Defiance ahead 15-8 at the 12 minute mark.
A three-point make from senior Ashley Birchmeier (Vaughnsville, Ohio/Columbus Grove) three minutes later kept the Jackets with a firm lead at 20-12.
But Alma responded right back by knocking down a pair of three's that trimmed the DC advantage to a deuce. Head coach Jessica (Cox) Morris then called a timeout to get the team settled down and it did the job.
The Purple and Gold forced the Scots to miss their next four shots including a block from Harshman. The senior-post player then drained a jumper and was followed by a three pointer from freshman Erica Smay (Defiance, Ohio/Tinora) that pushed Defiance's lead back up to seven at 25-18.
However, with just over five minutes to play in the first half, the home squad slowly chipped away at the deficit. Alma's next three makes were all from behind the arc, as it burst back on top of the Yellow Jackets 27-25.
The two evenly matched squads then battled over the next three and a half minutes till intermission. A pair of makes from the charity stripe by Tietje knotted the contest up at 30-30 and that was the score heading into half.
When play resumed in the second period of play, both the Purple and Gold and the Scots continued to trade buckets, as they had to end the first half.
A layup by senior Erica King (Wauseon, Ohio/Pettisville) gave DC the lead first before Alma went back on top by three just under two minutes into the period.
Then the Jackets answered with a hit from behind the arc by Birchmeier that gave them the lead back at 45-41 with 15 minutes to go.
But the Scots made one last push in the game, as they went on an 11-2 surge over the next three minutes. A jumper by Mallory Pruett gave Alma its largest lead of the night at 52-47 with just under 12 minutes on the clock.
Fortunately for the visiting Purple and Gold, everything started clicking on both sides of the ball. DC racked up the next 12 points in the game and got back on top by seven and never took its foot off the gas.
After Alma had gained its biggest lead of five points, Defiance outscored the home squad 31-13 to finish the off the game. Much was due to the dominating night from Tietje, who alone chalked up 13 points (5-of-5 from the field) with five rebounds and a block in the Jackets final spurt.
With the impressive 78-65 victory, the Yellow Jackets push their record to 1-0 on the 2013-14 campaign, while the Scots are still searching for their first win at 0-3.
The outcome of tonight's contest was very similar to DC's first victory of the season last year. It knocked off Alma at home by a final score of 80-69.
For the main contributors in the win, Tietje's 24 points and 11 boards were the most of any player on each squad. The freshman shot 9-of-14 (.643 pct.) from the field and added two blocks and a steal.
Birchmeier was also huge on the night for DC. The fourth-year player recorded her first career double-double with 14 points and career-highs of 10 rebounds and three assists. She also notched a personal best mark from distance, as the forward shot 4-of-6 from behind the arc.
Fellow senior Harshman added an efficient night as well. She totaled 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting, while notching five boards, two assists, two blocks and a steal.
As a squad, Defiance accomplished a feat it was unable to all of last season. The team posted a field goal percentage above .500, as it recorded a mark of 29-of-54 (53.7 pct.) from the floor including 8-of-14 (57.1 pct.) from long range. At the defensive end, it held the Scots to 37.1 percent shooting.
On the glass, the Jackets outrebounded Alma 44-33. DC also held the advantage in blocks (5-to-0) and assists (14-to-13). The Scots then bested the Purple and Gold in steals (11-to-6), while also having fewer turnovers (15) to Defiance's 22.
The Lady Jackets basketball team will be back on the road this weekend for the Baldwin-Wallace Tournament in Berea, Ohio. On Friday, November 22, it will be the battle of the Yellow Jackets, as DC goes up against B-W in the opening contest of the tournament. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.