Freshman Kelsey Tietje went off for 30 points and 10 rebounds and DC never trailed, as the Purple and Gold women's basketball team ran away with a 76-59 Heartland Conference victory over the Mount St. Joseph Lions on Saturday, February 8.
The win by Defiance (9-12, 6-8 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference) puts them in a three-way tie for sixth in the league and the last spot in the HCAC Tournament. Mount (2-19, 2-12 HCAC) drops its fifth straight with the loss.
It was all Yellow Jackets early on in the game, as MSJ struggled without its best player Tara Dennis on the court. DC held the short-handed Lions scoreless through the first-five minutes and racked up a 13-0 advantage, after a layup by Hannah Harshman (Ohio City, Ohio / Parkway).
MSJ then finally got things going and was able to slice into the deficit and get it down to 15-9 with 12:57 left in the first period.
But the Purple and Gold did a good job of keeping Mount at a distance over the rest of the half. DC answered almost every scoring run by the Lions, as they were never able to get closer than six points down throughout the rest of the period. The Jackets then took a 33-25 lead into the locker room for the break.
In the second half of play, it was Mount St. Joseph who got off to a solid start first. Less than three minutes in, the Lions were able to trim the score to 37-34 Defiance.
After the Lady Jackets were able build back up their advantage to seven points a few minutes later, Mount continued to fight and climb its way back into the game. An MSJ jumper at the 12:14 mark brought the score to 43-42 DC for the closest the contest had been since tip.
However, that was as close as Mount St. Joseph got the rest of the afternoon. The Purple and Gold quickly responded with a 9-2 surge that was finished off by on old-fashioned three-point play from Kim Bingley (Ottawa, Ohio / Ottawa-Glandorf). It gave Defiance a 52-44 lead with 8:26 to play and it only got larger from there.
Ashley Williams (Leipsic, Ohio / Pandora-Gilboa) drained her third triple of the game with 3:08 on the clock to push DC up by 14 at 66-52. But the big story of the afternoon was Tietje.
The freshman center notched the final two points of the contest on a pair of free-throws to reach the 30-point mark for the first time in her career and grabbed a rebound on the final shot to secure her HCAC-leading tenth double-double of the season and a 76-59 Yellow Jacket victory.
Tietje had been in a first-year slump of late, shooting 13-of-43 (32.6 percent) over her last four contests, but erupted against the Lions. The center went 11-of-15 (73.3) from the field and 8-of-11 (72.7) from the charity stripe for 30 points to go along with her 10 boards.
But she wasn't the only freshman to put together an outstanding performance. Williams stuffed the stat sheet, chalking up 12 points on 3-of-4 (75.0) shooting from downtown, while notching seven rebounds, four assists and four steals.
Harshman then went 7-of-11 (63.6) overall for 14 points mixed in with four boards and three assists. Bingley and Erica Smay (Defiance, Ohio / Tinora) each contributed seven points and six rebounds on the afternoon.
A key prior to the game was for the Purple and Gold to dominate on the glass and it accomplished that, as it outrebounded the Lions 49-36. Even though DC had its troubles from behind the arc (3-of-14 / 21.4) it still managed to shoot a solid 29-of-57 (50.9) from the floor, while holding MSJ to 23-of-68 (33.8).
"Right now a win is what keeps us alive," said Morris. "A win keeps us alive to move to the conference tournament. That's really what we're concerned with. We're trying to get a couple more to make sure we get in."
Defiance will start a three-game road trip Wednesday, February 12 when it travels to Richmond Ind. to take on the Earlham Quakers (6-8, 10-11 HCAC). Action is slated to begin at 7:30 p.m.