RICHMOND, IND. -- The Defiance College women's basketball team rallied from a halftime deficit to edge the Earlham (Ind.) College Quakers, 68-62, to win their fifth straight Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference contest.
DC was led by a pair of guards in senior Ashley Williams (Leipsic/Pandora-Gilboa) and junior Mekai White (Cincinnati/Winton Woods) scored 18 points apiece. Williams shot six-of-nine (66.7 percent) from the floor with all of her shots coming from beyond the arc. White shot six-of-15 (40.0 percent) from the floor and five-of-13 (38.5 percent) from deep.
Senior Kelsey Tietje (Deshler/Patrick Henry) added 13 points and grabbed 18 rebounds to earn her 16th double-double of the season. Her 13 points brings her just eight points shy of breaking the Defiance all-time scoring mark in women's basketball.
DC shot just 20-of-53 (37.7 percent) from the floor, but were on fire from deep, connecting on 13-of-27 (48.1 percent) of its shots from beyond the arc. Earlham shot 27-of-63 (42.9 percent) from the floor and also held a slight rebounding advantage, 40-38.
The Quakers (1-19, 1-12 HCAC) began the contest by scoring the first six points before Williams knocked down her first triple to cut the deficit in half at 6-3. Earlham made it, 8-3, before White added another three to make the score, 8-6, at the 5:55 mark. The Quakers grew their lead to 13-7 before Williams hit another triple for the Yellow Jackets (12-8, 9-4 HCAC) narrowing the gap to 13-10. The lead would be 15-12 when White hit her second three of the opening quarter to tie the contest at 15-15. The home team then scored the final four points of the quarter to give them a 19-15 lead after 10 minutes.
Earlham continued their momentum into the second quarter by opening up to a 23-15 lead, as they held DC scoreless for the first 3:22 of the period. DC ended the drought with six straight points, including another Williams triple, to make it a 23-21 game at the 3:49 mark. Earlham went on to lead by as many as five points in the final minutes of the half, but sophomore Sam Ervin (Bloomdale/Elmwood) knocked down two free-throws to get Earlham's halftime lead down to, 31-28.
The scoring in the third stanza opened with Tietje splitting a pair of free-throws and White knocking down her third trey of the game to give DC their first lead of the contest, 32-31, with 8:06 to go in the quarter. Earlham briefly took the lead back before four consecutive points by Tietje put DC back ahead, 36-33. Still leading by three points, 39-36, senior Keri Conine (Ottawa/Pandora-Gilboa) hit a three and Williams hit consecutive triples to give Defiance a commanding, 48-36, lead late in the third. The Jackets would take a 49-38 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
Freshman Liz Martin (Bellefontaine) added another trey for Defiance early in the final period to increase the margin to, 52-39, with 8:45 to play. Earlham answered with five straight points to narrow the gap to under 10 points, but a Tietje layup and Williams triple extended the Defiance lead back out to double digits, 57-44, at the 5:27 mark. Earlham again looked to rally and went on an ensuing 9-0 run to get to within four points at 57-53 with 3:11 remaining. The rally then ended thanks to a Tietje layup and White three-pointer to get the margin back out to a more comfortable nine points, 62-53, with just over two minutes left. Defiance took advantage of missed opportunities by Earlham in the final minutes and eventually went on to lead by 10 points, 67-57, with 26 seconds to go en route to posting the 68-62 final and a fifth straight win.
Defiance wraps up a three-game road swing as they travel to Franklin, Ind. on Saturday, Feb. 4 for an HCAC matchup against Franklin (Ind.) College. The game will also be part of a basketball doubleheader with the Yellow Jacket men's team. The women will tip-off against the Grizzlies at 2 p.m., followed by the men at 4 p.m.