BLUFFTON, OHIO – A tip-in by junior guard Alyssa Smith (Bluffton, Ind.) in the waning moments proved to be just enough of a difference to lift Manchester University to an important Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference road win Thursday, Feb. 6.
Smith, battling in the paint after a missed jump shot from sophomore guard Katie Arterburn (Indianapolis, Ind.), got her fourth rebound and flipped it into the net for a 51-49 Spartans' lead with two seconds remaining. BU (11-9 overall, 7-6 HCAC) got another opportunity on its ensuing possession after a foul was called but could only sink one of the two attempts with less than a second remaining to see the visitors gain a hard-fought 51-50 victory.
"It was a good win for us, and I'm proud of our players," Coach Josh Dzurick said. "(Bluffton) rallied back after we had managed to get a good second half lead. However, our team overcame that down the stretch … battling to the final buzzer."
Smith, who ended with seven points, four rebounds and two steals, was one of eight MU players to appear in the scoring column. Arterburn, draining two three-point baskets, led the offense with 10 points and also picked up three steals, while junior guard Jocelyn Hamilton (Columbus, Ind.) and junior center Alyssa Hammond (Osgood, Ind.) each added eight points.
Manchester University, improving to 10-10 overall and 7-6 in league play, used an 11-0 run to overturn a 16-12 deficit midway through the first 20 minutes. They got out to a good start in the second frame, too, holding as large as an 11-point lead (43-32), but Bluffton responded on the heels of a 17-5 roll to claim a 49-48 edge with just over a minute and a half remaining to set up the frenetic finish.
The Spartans begin a stretch of four home games in their final five dates to wrap up the 2013-14 regular season Saturday, Feb. 8. Rose-Hulman visits Stauffer-Wolfe Arena for a 3 p.m. start.
NOTES: Hamilton saw her multiple-assist games' string run to 20 with a team-high four … Senior forward Erynn Meiklejohn scored seven points to reach the 200-plus mark for the third consecutive year. She also grabbed a team-leading eight rebounds for a personal season single-game high … The victory put the Spartans into a tie with Bluffton for fourth place in the HCAC.