N. MANCHESTER, Ind. – Erica Smay drained a three with 27 seconds left in the game to help the DC women's basketball team snap a skid of seven-straight losses to Manchester and keep its HCAC tournament hopes alive, as the Yellow Jackets stung the Spartans for a 47-45 win on Wednesday, February 19.
After the victory DC (10-14, 7-10 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference) moved into a three-way tie for sixth in the league standings with Earlham (11-13, 7-10 HCAC) and Rose-Hulman (9-15, 7-10 HCAC). Manchester (13-11, 10-7 HCAC) now drops into a tie for fourth in the standings with Bluffton (14-10, 10-7 HCAC).
In the first half action started off slow as the defensive pressure from both squads controlled the tempo. Both the Purple and Gold and the Spartans struggled to get their offenses going and sat tied at 12-12 with over half of the first period completed.
However, a triple from Erica Smay (Defiance, Ohio / Tinora) with 58 seconds left in the first half concluded a 9-4 run by the Yellow Jackets that put them up 21-16. MU was then able to add a bucket in its final possession of the period that made the score 21-18 at the break.
Over the first 20 minutes of play the Defiance defense completely shut down the Spartans attack. Manchester connected on only 8-of-28 (28.6 percent) of its attempts and missed both of its three points shots. A big reason for MU's trouble was Kelsey Tietje (Deshler, Ohio / Patrick Henry) in the middle, as she racked up four blocks by intermission.
When the teams finally came out for the second period, DC made the first move with seven-straight points out of the gate. Its quick-scoring surge gave the Purple and Gold its biggest lead of the game at 28-18 with 17:49 to play.
But slowly, the Spartans continued to fight back and were able to cut the deficit down to 32-29 with just under 10 minutes remaining on the clock. Defiance and Manchester then continued to battle back-and-forth on each possession, but the Lady Jackets still held on to a slim 44-43 advantage with 1:18 on the clock.
Then with 49 ticks left in the game, MU's Justine Kruger made a layup to put the home team on top for first time since 9:05 in the first half. That lead lasted all off 22 seconds however, as Smay came through in the clutch with a huge three-point make to put DC back on top 47-45 with 27 seconds to go.
Manchester was then unable to connect on its final two attempts from the field and the Purple and Gold escaped the Stauffer-Wolfe Arena with its first win over the Spartans since the 2010 campaign.
In the low-scoring battle, Defiance did just enough from the floor to pull out the big victory. It finished 17-of-43 (39.5) from the floor, 3-of-10 (30.0) from long range and 10-of-17 (58.8) from the charity stripe. Fortunately, MU had worse struggles shooting the rock. The Spartans went 20-of-56 (35.7) overall, missed every three-point attempt (0-6) and hit only 5-of-11 (45.5) from the free-throw line.
Leading the Yellow Jackets on the night was Tietje with her 12th double-double of the season. The freshman center posted 18 points (6-of-11 / 54.5), 12 rebounds and four blocks on the night. She was followed up by senior Hannah Harshman (Ohio City, Ohio / Parkway) who notched 10 points, five boards and two steals in the victory.
But the hero of the night was Smay. The freshman guard only connected on two shots total, but they were both critical. Smay finished the game 2-of-4 (50.0) from the floor, 2-of-3 (66.6) from behind the arc for seven points to go along with three rebounds.
The Purple and Gold will return home to take on the Franklin Grizzlies Saturday, February 22 for senior night and its final game of the regular season. Tip is slated for 2 p.m. in the Karl H. Weaner Center.