LEXINGTON, KY. -- The Defiance College women's basketball team stumbled in the second quarter and never recovered, falling to Transylvania (Ky.) University, 70-58, in a Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament quarterfinal matchup in Lexington, Ky.
Senior Kelsey Tietje (Deshler/Patrick Henry) led DC in scoring with 17 markers on seven-of-14 (50.0 percent) from the floor. Tietje also grabbed nine boards, dished out two assists, and blocked two shots. Fellow senior Ashley Williams (Leipsic/Pandora-Gilboa) was the only other Defiance scorer in double-figures with 10 points and five boards.
Junior Mekai White (Cincinnati/Winton Woods) added nine points on three-of-six (50.0 percent) shooting from beyond the arc. Senior Erica Smay (Defiance/Tinora) added eight points and three assists, while senior Keri Conine (Ottawa/Pandora-Gilboa) added seven points.
The Yellow Jackets fell victim to Transy's red-hot shooting from beyond the arc, as they finished the night shooting 53.8 percent (14-of-26). The Pioneers also shot 46.2 percent (24-of-52) overall from the floor. Defiance shot 39.6 percent (21-of-53) overall and 40.0 percent (eight-of-20) from deep.
The Pioneers (19-7) took an early 6-4 lead, but DC (13-13) rallied for seven straight points, capped by a White triple, to take an 11-6 advantage at the 4:49 mark. Transy hit a three to make it 11-9 before Tietje hit a free-throw, followed by a jumper, to make it 14-9. After the Pioneers made it a 14-11 contest, White added her second three-pointer of the quarter to get the lead back to six points, 17-11, before the Pioneers cut the DC lead to 19-16 after one quarter.
Junior Whitney Schalk (Bellevue) bumped the lead to 21-16 with a pair of freebies to open the second stanza. Transy cut the deficit back to 23-22 when sophomore Sam Ervin (Bloomdale/Elmwood) added a jumper to put DC back ahead, 25-22. The Pioneers finished the half on an 11-0 run, knocking down three consecutive triples and capping it with a layup with five seconds remaining, giving Transylvaina a 33-25 lead at the break.
Williams briefly halted the momentum by opening the third quarter with a trey, getting Defiance to within five points, 33-28. The Pioneers scored seven straight to take their first double-digit lead of the night, before another triple from Williams ended the run and made the score, 40-31. After a jumper put the Pioneers back ahead by double-figures, Smay and Williams knocked down a couple of threes to get DC back to within striking distance, 42-37. But eight straight points by Transylvania strung the lead out to 50-37. Ervin would add the final four points of the quarter for Defiance, but the Jackets would trail the Pioneers, 52-40, heading into the fourth quarter.
The Pioneers continued to pull away in the fourth quarter, scoring six of the first seven points, to take a 58-41 advantage at the 7:11 mark. DC looked to rally with a 7-2 run that cut the lead to 10 points, 64-54, with three minutes to play. However, the Pioneers shot a perfect six-of-six from the free-throw line down the stretch to keep the chances of a possible comeback at bay and came away with a 70-58 win to advance to the HCAC semifinals.
Defiance ends its season with a 13-13 overall record, which marks the most victories for the Jackets since the 2012-13 season when DC won 14 games.