NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – In a Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference clash that saw each side hold no more than an eight-point advantage, Manchester University closed its 2014-15 home season by taking second-place Defiance College to the wire Wednesday, Feb. 18.
The visiting Yellow Jackets, narrowly managing to keep pace with league-leading Mt. St. Joseph University, used a 16-9 stretch over the final seven and a half minutes to key an 86-81 win and hold back a stiff challenge from the host Spartans (5-19 overall, 4-13 HCAC). The home team opened the meeting by scoring 17 of the first 26 points and led throughout the first half, not being overtaken by DC until the second 20 minutes.
As has been the case throughout the year, the Black and Gold proved to be balanced on the scoring chart, putting five players in double digits. Junior forward Matt Brown (Hobart, Ind.), who will head into the season finale at Hanover College Saturday, Feb. 21, ranked among the conference's top five scorers (17.3 points per game), tallied 17 to lead the way. He was followed closely by the guard tandem of sophomore Chase Casteel (Monrovia, Ind.) and senior Caleb Jackson (New Castle, Ind.). Each of them compiled 16-point nights with Casteel draining four three-point buckets and grabbing seven boards, while Jackson, in his final appearance on Stan Weller Court honoring Coaches Wolfe and Hoffman inside Stauffer-Wolfe Arena, dished out a team-high five assists to go with his point total. Freshman guard Brody Kirby (Frankfort, Ind.) added 15 points, while junior guard Brady Dolezal (Tipton, Ind.) ended with 13 points, on six-of-six field goal shooting, to go with three assists.
MU's fifth 80-point-plus outing was spotlighted further by a sizzling shooting percentage from the field overall and outside the arc. The Spartans hit at a 56.4 percent clip from the field and just under 53 percent from three-point range.
Manchester University wraps up the year Saturday with a 5 p.m. tipoff at Hanover College's Collier Arena.
NOTES: Jackson's final game at home is one he won't soon forget. His 16 points marked a new personal single-game high … Casteel's points per game continued to climb Wednesday as it has since the beginning of the new year. His 12th double-digit scoring contest in his last 13 appearances moved him to 11.2 per game, a rise of better than seven points in the span … Forward Glendon Yoder (LaGrange, Ind.), just as Jackson, played in his final home game and was honored prior to tip-off. He picked up his first start and made the most of it. In two minutes of action, he hit a lay-up, tallying the Spartans' first points, and grabbed a rebound.