HANOVER, Ind. – An incredible 18 point, 26 rebound and five block performance from Kelsey Tietje was not enough on Saturday, January 4, as a nine-point halftime lead vanished and the Purple and Gold women's basketball team dropped a Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference contest to the Hanover Panthers 72-62.
Tietje's (Deshler, Ohio / Patrick Henry) 26 boards ousted Lori Harris' record of 24 that had stood for almost 31 years. Harris is Defiance's all-time leader in rebounds (1,112) and rebounds per game (11.6). Her 26 rebounds also set a new HCAC record, bypassing the previous mark established in 1995. For the leading rebounder in the Heartland Conference, Tietje has now posted a league-high seven double-doubles.
The first-year center owns a top-50 ranking in all of National Collegiate Athletic Association Div. III with her 12.5 rebounds per game average and also sits in the top-five for freshman in the nation.
With the defeat, DC falls to 3-8, 0-4 HCAC. However, Hanover moves one game away from .500, as it ups its record 5-6, 3-1 HCAC.
To begin this conference battle, the Panthers gained an early 8-3 advantage just over three minutes into play. But midway through the first half, a three pointer from senior Erica King (Wauseon, Ohio / Pettisville) put the Yellow Jackets on top 16-15.
The two teams then traded buckets over the next five-plus minutes and DC maintained a slim 30-29 advantage with 4:34 left on the clock. Fortunately, a late 11-3 surge gave the Purple and Gold a 41-32 lead heading into the locker room. This marks the first time during the 2013-14 season that Defiance was on top at the intermission.
A big reason for the Yellow Jackets halftime advantage was Tietje, who scored 10 points and hauled in an incredible 16 rebounds in the first period. She was also aided by King who was hot from behind the arc and notched 13 points.
Unfortunately, everything fell apart for the Purple and Gold in the second half. Hanover came out hot and turned up the defensive pressure to an unheralded level. The Panthers scored 19-straight points, while holding the Jackets scoreless. DC coughed up 12 turnovers and went 0-for-6 from the field in that span and quickly found themselves down 51-41.
After the big momentum shift, Defiance responded with a swift run that cut the deficit to a triple at 51-48 with 10:11 remaining on the clock. But that was as close as the Jackets could come throughout the rest of the contest. Hanover's full-court press that caused 31 DC turnovers on the night was just too much to handle for the Purple and Gold, as it fell 72-62.
It was truly a tale of two halves for Defiance. After shooting 17-of-29 (58.6 percent) from the field and 5-of-8 (62.5 pct.) from behind the arc in the first period, the Yellow Jackets went ice cold in the last 20 minutes. The team combined to go 7-of-29 (24.1 pct.) overall and 1-of-9 (14.3 pct.) from three-point land the rest of the way.
Statistically, DC dominated the game. Holding the better numbers in field goal percentage, three-point percentage, rebounding, blocks and bench points. But two main categories stung the Yellow Jackets bad.
The Purple and Gold committed a season-high 31 turnovers to Hanover's nine. The Panthers were able to rack up an impressive 20 steals in the game that gave the home team 13 more attempts from the field.
The other area that hurt DC was from the charity stripe. HC knocked down 25-of-34 (73.5 pct.) attempts from the free throw line, while Defiance struggled with an 8-of-15 (53.3 pct.) mark.
Leading all scorers in the contest was Hanover's Kelsey Block with 19. She was followed by teammate Jessie Davidson and Tietje, who each accounted for 18 points. Off the bench, King and senior Ashley Birchmeier (Vaughnsville, Ohio / Columbus Grove) added solid performances with 15 and 12 points, respectively.
The Yellow Jackets will be back on the road next Wednesday, January 8, as they continue their search for their first conference victory. DC will go up against the Anderson Ravens (0-4, 1-10 HCAC) in a night matchup that is slated for 7:30 p.m. in the O.C. Lewis Gymnasium.