N. MANCHESTER, Ind. – Manchester's defense had held its opponents to 60.9 points per game and hadn't allowed any opponent this season to score more than 77 points entering Thursday's matchup with the Lady Jackets. Defiance bucked that trend, dropping 85 on the Spartans in an 85-76 road victory.
Defiance never trailed in the game, and led for all but the first 16 seconds, before Molly Bateman, Kim Comden and Erica King combined to score the game's first three field goals and give DC an early 8-0 advantage. The lead ballooned to as many as 15 when Bateman hit her third three-pointer of the half to make it a 26-11 lead with 7:53 on the clock. At that point, Bateman was single-handedly outscoring the Spartans by a count of 12-11.
Manchester went on an extended 18-8 run over the next 5:41, cutting DC's advantage to 34-29 with just over two minutes left before half. Stucke hit a three-pointer with 1:21 showing to put Defiance back ahead by eight, and the two teams would swap baskets to end the period and send the Jackets into halftime with an eight-point lead.
A pair of back-to-back layups by King put Defiance ahead, 48-37, with 16:51 left in regulation, but Manchester's Alexandra Starkey shot three-of-three from the field over the next 3:21 to bring the Spartans within four points at the 13:30 mark. The lead shriveled to one point as DC missed four of its next five field goals, and MC's Erynn Meiklejohn hit a jumper to make it 55-54 with 9:30 left.
King hit a three-pointer to put Defiance back ahead by four, and the Jackets protected their lead from the free throw line to make it a nine-point margin at the end of regulation. Defiance went 16-of-17 from the charity stripe in the second half, draining 16-straight after missing the first free throw of the period. The Jackets hit 23-of-26 shots from the line for the game, giving them a season-best 88.5 percent clip.
The victory marked DC's first time to win this season despite losing the turnover battle. It wasn't even close, as DC coughed the ball up 19 times compared to Manchester's nine, but the Jackets made up for the turnovers with stealthy shooting, hitting 42.4 percent of their shots against a defense that had held its opponents to 36.9 percent from the floor all season. Defiance was even better from deep, hitting 10-of-21 shots for a 47.6 percent clip beyond the arc.
Bateman led all scorers with 20 points, marking her sixth time to lead DC in scoring this season. Tasha Stucke led all rebounders with nine boards from her point guard position, and chipped in 17 points, three assists, two steals and a block.
Defiance will play at Transylvania (14-6, 9-4 HCAC) on Saturday, February 5 at 3:00 p.m. The third-place Pioneers are coming off a 78-76 overtime loss at Franklin on Thursday.