HCAC thriller goes way of Spartans
NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – A lay-up from junior forward Erynn Meiklejohn (Fort Wayne, Ind.) and some gritty defense in the final 21 seconds helped lift Manchester University to key Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference win Wednesday, Jan. 9.
Meiklejohn, taking a nifty baseline pass from sophomore guard Jocelyn Hamilton (Columbus, Ind.), spun around her defender and banked in a lay-up to give MU a 64-62 lead. Defiance, dropping to 8-5 overall and 5-2 in the conference, had two more opportunities to extend and/or win the game in the final moments but a missed lay-up with 10 seconds left and a three-pointer that went short at the buzzer sealed the win for the Black and Gold (6-8, 5-2 HCAC).
"We kept telling the team just one more rebound, one defensive stop and to keep hanging tough," Spartans' head coach Josh Dzurick said of the frenetic finish. "I am so proud of how this young team got a good home win.
"Our focus now has to be on the things we need to do to keep improving," he added. "We'll start by working towards a good practice tomorrow and go from there."
The Spartans went back and forth with the visiting Yellowjackets throughout the night. Defiance opened the game quickly, building a 24-18 lead with just six minutes to go in the first half. The home side answered with a big roll to end the frame and open the second half, outscoring the visitors 18-3 to go up 36-27 with just over 18 minutes to play. MU continued to stretch the advantage, going up 51-38 with 9:48 to go. However, Defiance answered the bell by piecing together a furious rally, scoring 24 of the game's next 35 points to set up the thrilling finish.
Dzurick's bench played a big role in the win, out-scoring the opposing bench 34-10. Freshman guard Katie Arterburn (Indianapolis, Ind.) led the Spartans' scoring column with 15 points, while sophomore forward Alyssa Hammond (Osgood, Ind.) just missed a double-double with 11 points and eight rebounds to go with two blocked shots.
Defiance was led by junior guard Erica King's 22 points. She tossed in five three-point baskets as part of her eight field goals.
Manchester University continues league play with a 2 p.m. tipoff inside Franklin College's Spurlock Center Saturday, Jan. 12.
NOTES: The win moved the Black and Gold into a three-way tie for second on the conference standings with Defiance and Franklin, just a game back of Transylvania. … Arterburn's double-figure scoring night was her seventh of the year and third straight equaling her season's best run. She also registered her ninth multiple-steal outing. … Hammond's 11-point night marked a season high for the sophomore. Her eight boards equaled her total against Olivet. … Freshman guard Hannah Field (Fort Wayne, Ind.), by dishing out four assists, earned her eighth multiple-assist contest of the year.