DEFIANCE, Ohio. – It was a big night for the Lady Jackets basketball squad as they defeated the Bluffton Beavers 70-61 for their first home win of the 2013-14 season on Wednesday, January 15. Kelsey Tietje paced DC with 19 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and a pair of blocks. [Video Highlights]
The Purple and Gold upped its season mark to 5-9, 2-5 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference, while Defiance hands Bluffton only its second loss in the past eight games. The Beavers stoop to 8-6, 4-3 HCAC. They are only 1-13 at the Weaner Center since DC joined the Heartland Conference in 2000.
Getting her first taste of the heated rivalry, Tietje (Deshler, Ohio / Patrick Henry) rebounded from a poor outing against Rose-Hulman to notch her ninth double-double of the year. After the game head coach Jessica (Cox) Morris was very pleased with her freshman center, "she was being double teamed and triple teamed, but she fought through the frustration and stepped up to hit some big shots for us and played like the player we know she is."
In the first half, DC made the first move and held a slim 11-8 advantage five minutes in. However, Bluffton got in a rhythm and went on an 11-2 spurt to put the Beavers back on top 19-13 with just over minutes remaining in the period.
But slowly the Yellow Jackets chiseled away at the deficit and after junior Megan Zachrich (Napoleon, Ohio / Napoleon) split a pair of free throws with two seconds left in the half, the arch rivals went into the locker room knotted up at 31-31.
Defiance was lights out from the field in first half, shooting 59.1 percent. But it was just getting warmed up, as the Purple and Gold came out and shot even better in the second period.
DC took the lead less than 90 seconds in and extended the advantage to 47-40, after back-to-back layups from seniors Kim Bingley (Ottawa, Ohio / Ottawa-Glandorf) and Erica King (Wauseon, Ohio / Pettisville).
But back came the Beavers, scoring the next nine points and leaving the Lady Jackets trailing 49-47 with just under 12 minutes left in regulation. However, with a crowd over a thousand and an emphatic student section at their back, Defiance came together and fought to retake the lead and never gave it up.
After another layup by Bingley put the Purple and Gold on top 51-49, it began to feed off of the momentum and pushed ahead to a six-point advantage with 4:31 to go. But Bluffton never gave in and fought tooth and nail till the end. A Taylor Whitaker three pointer brought the Beavers within one basket at 61-58 with 2:49 remaining.
Fortunately, that was as close as the arch-rival got the rest of the night. DC was able to knock down its free throws when it counted, hitting 7-of-8 in the final three minutes and sealing the big 70-61 victory for the Yellow Jackets.
On the win Morris added, "The girls came mentally ready to go and they paid attention to the details we talked about this week. But the biggest thing that helped us tonight was that we played for 40 minutes and that's what we are working on to get every night."
After their fantastic performance from the floor in the first half, DC topped itself by shooting a remarkable 68.2 percent in the second period. Overall, the team finished with a 63.6 percent clip
(28-44), which was the first time Defiance has shot over 60 percent since the 2004-05 season.
Four Yellow Jackets scored in double figures on the night. Tietje led the way with 19 points on a career best 9-of-11 shooting. She was followed by senior Hannah Harshman (Ohio City, Ohio / Parkway) with 14 points, six rebounds and four assists. Bingley finished with 12, while going 4-of-5 from the floor and grabbing 5 boards. And finally, Zachrich chalked up 11 points (5-of-6 shooting), six rebounds and three steals.
Also chipping in was King with seven points and two assists. Her total on the night pushed her up to the 16thmost points scored in DC women's basketball history.
In other stat battles, the Yellow Jackets doubled the Beavers on the glass (42-21) and notched a season high 18 assists to Bluffton's 8. Turnovers were costly once again for the Purple and Gold, as they committed 26 and BU managed to only have 12.
Defiance's next opponent will be the Franklin Grizzlies (8-6, 6-1 HCAC). It will travel to Indiana on Saturday, January 18 for a 2 p.m. matchup with the Heartland Conference foe.