NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – Rebounding from a tough start over the opening 20-minutes-plus, Manchester University nearly came up with a key Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference victory Saturday, Feb. 13.
Battling through an opening half in which they shot under 25 percent from the field and less than 15 percent from outside the arc in route to a 35-18 deficit to visiting Rose-Hulman early in the second half, the Spartans (6-17 overall, 4-12 HCAC) ebbed away at the co-HCAC leading Fightin' Engineers over the final 16:30. After a pair of charity tosses were converted by senior guard Justine Kruger (Francesville, Ind.) with less than 1:30 to play, MU found itself down only 48-45 due to a 27-13 roll. However, Rose-Hulman (20-3 overall, 14-2 HCAC) kept itself in a tie with Bluffton University for first going into the final week of play, going five for six at the free throw line down the stretch to close a 55-50 final.
Kruger and fellow senior guards Katie Arterburn (Indianapolis, Ind.) and Kelcey Daugherty (Greenwood, Ind.) were honored prior to tipoff in Senior Day festivities. They all contributed statistical support for the home team, too, as Daugherty was recognized in a poignant display of sportsmanship by both sides by being put in the contest to score the game's first points for the Spartans; Kruger compiled eight points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals; and Arterburn ended with six points, due to a perfect three-of-three effort at the free throw line, and a blocked shot.
Sophomore forward Samantha Bolen (Greenwood, Ind.) tallied 14 points to lead all scorers. She hit four-of-seven from the field and six-of-eight from the charity stripe to make up the total.
Going into the regular season's final week, the Spartans remain only a game out of the top six designation for a postseason tournament slot. They host Defiance College who, along with Hanover College, is just a game ahead of them in sixth in a crucial conference match-up Wednesday, Feb. 17. Tip-off time is 7:30 p.m. at Stauffer-Wolfe Arena.
NOTES: Bolen tallied her 10th double-digit effort of the year and second in the last three contests … Kruger's stalwart rebounding, assist and steal totals have become commonplace of late. She's registered five-or-more boards five times in the last six contests; dished out multiple assists in three successive and four of the last five games played and picked off multiple steals in seven of her last eight appearances.