CINCINNATI, Ohio – Manchester University was not able to sustain a fast start as the host Mount St. Joseph Lions rallied past the visiting Spartans 63-57 on Saturday afternoon.
The Spartans and Lions battled back-and-forth for the first seven minutes of Saturday's contest, but Manchester University used an 8-0 run at the end of the period to grab a 16-10 lead. The run was highlighted by threes from Isabella Zoog (Brownsburg, Ind. / Brownsburg) and Nicole Weaver (Fort Wayne, Ind. / Homestead). Beth Schaefer (Fort Wayne, Ind. / Carroll) capped the run with a layup.
The Spartans built their biggest lead of the opening game early in the second quarter. Bridget Nash (Carmel, Ind. / Bishop Chatard) made a pair of free throws at the 8:52 mark that gave the Spartans a 19-10 lead. After the Lions got within a point midway through the period, MU managed a 7-0 run to take a 28-20. The Spartans still held an eight-point lead with just over two minutes to play in the half, but the Lions closed with a 9-0 and led 32-31 at the break.
Mount St. Joseph extended its slim advantage to seven, 38-31, with 6:50 to play in the third quarter. The Spartans promptly responded with 9-0 over 1:50 of game time. Both teams traded baskets and remained neck-and-neck the rest of the quarter. MSJ held a narrow 48-44 lead heading into the final period of play.
The Lions did just enough to outlast the visiting Spartans in the fourth quarter. Faith-Alexis Graham (Indianapolis, Ind. / North Central) made a jumper with 4:42 remaining to the give the Spartans a 51-50 lead. That lead was short-lived as MSJ's knocked down back-to-back triples on its next two possessions to retake the lead. MU managed to get within four points in the final minute, but the Lions made their free throws to seal the game.
Bridget Nash scored a career-high 15 points off the bench. Beth Schaefer added a career-high 13 rebounds and six points. Miranda Bieghler (Plainfield, Ind. / South Putnam) added six points and a career-high seven boards in 16 minutes off the bench. The Spartans outrebounded the Lions 51-37.
Mount St. Joseph improved to 12-7, 7-5 HCAC with the win. Manchester will return home on Wednesday January 30 against Franklin College. Tip against FC will be at 7:30 p.m. in Stauffer-Wolfe Arena.