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Defiance Rallies to Knock Off Bluffton in Double Overtime

Defiance Rallies to Knock Off Bluffton in Double Overtime

BLUFFTON, OHIO – Senior forward Kelsey Tietje (Deshler/Patrick Henry) became the school's all-time leading rebounder as the Defiance College women's basketball team pulled out a victory against the top-ranked team in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference and the 24th-ranked team in Division III with a, 79-75, double overtime win at the Sommer Center in Bluffton, Ohio.

Defiance (8-8, 5-4 HCAC) was led in scoring by Tietje, who scored 24 points on eight-of-16 (50 percent) from the floor, as well as 19 rebounds and seven blocked shots.  With her 19 rebounds, Tietje now has 1,129 career boards to take over the top spot in program history which was previously owned by standout Lorri Harris '86 with 1,112 career rebounds.

Junior Mekai White (Cincinnati/Winton Woods) had a strong night from three-point range, hitting five-of-eight (62.5 percent) from deep, and finished with 17 points to go along with six rebounds. Senior guard Erica Smay (Defiance/Tinora) added 14 points, while senior guard Keri Conine (Ottawa/Pandora-Gilboa) chipped in with 10 markers.

Defiance finished the contest shooting 28-of-68 (41.2 percent) from the floor, and a season-high 10-of-21 (47.6 percent) from beyond the arc.  Bluffton (13-3, 7-2 HCAC) shot 31-of-83 (37.3 percent) from the floor and just three-of-10 (30 percent) from deep. Bluffton also shot just 43.5 percent (10-of-23) from the free-throw line.

With the game tied, 2-2, Smay and White hit a pair of triples sandwiched between a Bluffton bucket to take a quick 8-4 edge. Bluffton scored eight of the next 10 points to take a two-point margin at the 3:42 mark. White responded with a three-pointer that started a 10-0 scoring run for DC to end the opening quarter of action and gave the Jackets a 20-12 lead.

The Beavers scored six quick points to begin the second quarter to get to within two points three minutes in. Bluffton cut the lead to a single point at 24-23 at the 5:17 mark before consecutive triples by White and Smay lifted Defiance to a seven-point lead. The home team got it back to three points before a jumper by sophomore Sam Ervin (Bloomdale/Elmwood) and another three from White, gave DC their largest lead of the half at 35-27. Bluffton then hit a triple to end the half and make it a 35-30 contest at the break.

The Yellow Jackets lead increased to seven points, 45-38, midway through the third period before Bluffton rallied for eight straight points and took a 46-45 advantage at the 2:56 mark. Junior Whitney Schalk (Bellevue) then scored on a layup to put DC back up by one point. After the home team split a pair of free-throws, Ervin scored three straight points for DC to increase the margin to 50-47. Bluffton tallied the final points of the period with a jumper and narrowed the DC lead to, 50-49, heading into the fourth quarter.

The Beavers began the fourth with a tip-in and a pair of free-throws to move ahead on the scoreboard, before five straight points by White put Defiance up by two points, 55-53. The Defiance lead grew to three points, 59-56, following two free-throws by Conine, when the Beavers rattled off seven straight points to swing momentum back in favor of the home team and take a 63-59 lead with 2:49 to play. The final points of the quarter all came from Smay on a pair of layups with the last one coming with just 32 seconds to play and tied the contest at 63-63 to send the game into an extra session.

Bluffton scored two points to open the first overtime period. Both teams then went scoreless for the next 4:23 of action before Bluffton ended the scoring drought with a pair of freebies to go up, 67-63, with 16 seconds to play. DC would have to rally again which begain with one of two free-throws by Tietje with 14 seconds left. After the Beavers missed a pair of ensuing free-throws, Smay came up big again for the Jackets and netted the game-tying triple as time expired making the score, 67-67, and forcing a second overtime.

Defiance scored the first points of overtime number two on a layup by Ervin to put the Jackets ahead, 69-67. DC never trailed in the period despite Bluffton tying the game on two occasions, including a 73-73 score with just under two minutes on the clock. The Jackets took control for good shortly after as Tietje went on to knock down five-of-six attempts from the charity stripe that led to a 78-73 margin with 49 seconds left. Bluffton scored on a layup following the free-throws by Tietje to make it a 78-75 game, but the Jackets sealed the game with one-of-two free-throws by Smay as DC went to post the 79-75 upset victory.

Defiance returns to the Karl H. Weaner Center on Saturday, Jan. 21 and will host Mount St. Joseph University in a basketball doubleheader with the Yellow Jacket men's team. The women's game will begin at 1 p.m., followed by the men's game at 3 p.m.