DEFIANCE, Ohio. – In a wild and high intensity contest on Wednesday, January 22 the Defiance women's basketball team captured its third-straight win, after a thrilling 74-73 victory over the Earlham Quakers.
Freshman Kelsey Tietje (Deshler, Ohio / Patrick Henry) came through in the clutch for the Jackets on the night. Down by one point, the center was fouled on a shot attempt with .5 seconds left on the clock. Tietje went to the charity stripe and drained a pair to send DC to victory.
The Purple and Gold's three-game winning streak is the longest of the season and its record now jumps to 7-9, 4-5 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference. With the heartbreaking loss, Earlham falls to 7-9, 3-6 HCAC.
The Quakers came into the game without a win against Defiance in the complete series history between the two squads. But Tietje's last second free throws send EC back to Richmond Ind. 0-13 all-time when facing the Yellow Jackets.
In the opening half, Earlham got on top early with the first-four points in the game. But DC slowly settled into form and got its offense in gear. After the two teams racked up four different ties in the first eight minutes, the Purple and Gold went on a run to open up a 25-17 lead with 8:11 remaining in the period.
Defiance fed off of the run and continued to shoot well throughout the rest of the half. It posted a blistering 64.3 percent (18-of-28) mark from the field overall and was able to take a 43-33 advantage into the intermission.
Tietje and senior Hannah Harshman (Ohio City, Ohio / Parkway) were the driving force in the successful opening period. Each scored 10 points, while Tietje hauled in six rebounds and Harshman grabbed three.
However, things began to get a little dicey in the second half. Earlham's top scorer Kasin Spay was quiet in the first 20 minutes of action, as she was held to five points. But the guard caught fire out of the break, scoring seven points in the first-three minutes to help shave the DC lead to 45-42.
The Yellow Jackets were able to stave off the Quakers run and answer with one of their own. After a lay in by Tietje at the 13:28 mark, the Purple and Gold had opened its advantage back up to nine at 55-46.
But the scrappy Earlham squad did not give up. After a triple from Spay, EC trailed 57-56 less than three minutes later. Then with 8:49 to go, the Quakers finally broke through and took their first lead of the second half 60-59 on a Bria Sneed layup.
Over the next seven and a half minutes, the two squads battled back-and-forth for every bucket. Neither team was able to get ahead by more than four points and there were eight lead changes in the time span.
But with 1:19 remaining, junior Megan Zachrich (Napoleon, Ohio / Napoleon) dished out one of her nine assists to Tietje for a jumper that brought the game to 73-72 Earlham.
On the Quakers next possession, they were able to burn some clock after grabbing one of their 19 offensive rebounds. But with 17 ticks left on the scoreboard, an errant pass sailed out of bounds for a turnover, giving DC a shot to tie or win the game.
With two seconds to go, Harshman put up a jumper that didn't fall, but Tietje was there for the offensive rebound. She then went for the put back and was fouled and sent to the stripe with only .5 seconds on the clock. Tietje calmly toed the line and drained the two-biggest free throws of her young career to give Defiance a 74-73 victory.
After the win, head coach Jessica (Cox) Morris was very pleased with her first-year centers big game. "For Kelsie to step up and make those two free throws as a freshman in a clutch situation was incredible. I think it is going to do a lot for her confidence moving forward."
It was the second-game in a row that the Purple and Gold were able to pull out a win on its final offensive possession. DC posted an impressive 30-of-51 (58.8 percent) mark from the field for its second-highest shooting percentage this year and racked up a season-best 22 assists. EC also shot well going 32-of-71 (45.1) overall.
A big reason for the Quakers 20 more shots on the night was from their dominance in offensive rebounds. Earlham came into the game tops in the HCAC and showed it by grabbing 19 boards at the offensive end to only 12 on defense. Its 31 boards just edged DC, who came up with 30.
But maybe the most critical area came in the free-throw department. The Lady Jackets went nearly perfect (12-of-13) from the charity stripe for its second-highest mark on the 2013-14 campaign. EC finished 4-for-6.
Leading DC was Tietje with 22 points (8-of-12) and nine rebounds. She was followed by Harshman with 20 points (9-of-13), six boards, four assists and two blocks. Feeding the two scorers on the night was Zachrich with nine assists, which is the most by a Jacket this season. She also notched eight points, five rebounds and a pair of steals.
The Defiance women's basketball team will be back at home on Saturday, January 25 to try and even up the season series with the Hanover Panthers (8-8, 6-3 HCAC). Game time is scheduled to start at 1 p.m.