Jackets End Regular Season with 83-81 Win vs. Franklin
DEFIANCE, Ohio – On an afternoon that Defiance celebrated the accomplishments of its seniors, a freshman stole the show, posting a game-high 22 points to lead DC to a thrilling 83-81 victory over Franklin. The win puts Defiance at 12-13 overall and 10-8 in the conference to conclude the regular-season slate.
It was just the sixth loss of the season for the Grizzlies, who were playing to maintain their second-place spot in the HCAC standings. DC's 83 points also tied Hanover for the most scored against Franklin's conference-leading defense this season.
The score was tight throughout. Franklin's largest lead was a four-point margin early in the second half, and DC held a double-digit lead for just 11 seconds midway through the second stanza before Franklin fought back into the game.
The turning point occurred in the last four minutes of the second half, when Defiance went on a 12-4 run, going four-of-four from the field with two three-pointers, to turn a 24-24 tie at the 4:08 mark into and eight-point advantage with 1:44 left in the period. Franklin closed the gap to five at halftime.
Molly Bateman hit a jumper to put Defiance ahead by seven points 13 seconds into the second period, before Franklin went on a run, hitting seven of their next 10 shots, to claim their largest advantage of the game, a 47-42 lead, with 15:23 remaining. King hit a three-pointer to bring Defiance to within one, and Brooke Zachrich would score the next four points for Defiance to put the Jackets back ahead by two before Brittany Wilson's layup tied the game, 50-50, with 13:19 on the clock.
The next three minutes belonged to Defiance. King and Hanna Firchau put the Jackets ahead by two with a pair of free throws, before Rachel Ciminillo found Zachrich for an open three-pointer that gave DC a five-point edge. King launched from deep to make it an eight-point lead, and hit a pair of free throws with 10:16 showing to give the Jackets their game-high ten-point advantage.
The 19-5 Grizzlies would not accept the loss, however, and battled back to within three points with five minutes remaining. Bateman halted the Grizzlies' rising momentum with an old-fashioned three-point play with 4:56 remaining, and after a pair of Franklin free throws, Tasha Stucke lined up from deep and pushed the lead back to seven.
Franklin would claw back to within three again, before King hit her fifth three-pointer of the game with 2:47 remaining to make it a six-point lead. Defiance would score six of its final eight points from the free throw line, and held a four point lead before Franklin's Sarah Condra hit a jumper with one tick on the clock, making it a two-point game at the buzzer.
King led all scorers with 22 points, while Zachrich tied her career-high with her second-consecutive 15-point output.
Defiance will square off against Manchester (13-12; 11-7 HCAC) in the opening round of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament on Friday, Feb. 25. Manchester and Defiance split, 1-1, in the regular season, with both teams winning on the road. DC got the best of the Spartans in the last matchup, when Bateman scored a game-high 20 points and Stucke chipped in with 17 points and nine rebounds in an 85-76 victory.
DC's second-straight trip to the HCAC Tournament will begin at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, on the campus of Hanover College.