DEFIANCE, OHIO -- The Defiance College women's basketball team dropped an 81-68 decision at the hands of Bluffton University in a Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference matchup at the Karl H. Weaner Center.
The Yellow Jackets were led in scoring by senior Kelsey Tietje (Deshler/Patrick Henry) who recorded game-highs of 25 points on 11-of-21 shooting (52.3 percent) from the floor and 14 rebounds. The other scorer in double figures for Defiance was senior Erica Smay (Defiance/Tinora) who scored 13 points and added three assists.
Defiance shot 27-of-58 (46.6 percent) from the floor, compared to Bluffton's 28-of-58 (48.3 percent). The difference came at the charity stripe as Bluffton shot 21-of-26 (80.8 percent) on the evening, while DC finished the contest shooting nine-of-12 (75.0 percent). The Yellow Jackets finished the contest with a healthy, 38-26, edge on the boards, but committed twice as many turnovers as the Beavers, 18-9.
Bluffton (18-4, 12-3 HCAC) opened the contest with eight straight points before junior Whitney Schalk (Bellevue) scored an old-fashioned three-point play and Sam Ervin (Bloomdale/Elmwood) added a deuce to get Defiance (12-10, 9-6 HCAC) to within three points, 8-5. The Beavers went on to extend the lead to double figures for the first time at the 2:52 mark with a 17-7 advantage en route to their largest lead of the quarter of 11 points, 21-10, with 1:13 to play. Ervin and Tietje ended the period with consecutive buckets to slice the lead to 21-14 after the first 10 minutes.
The Beavers quickly regained a double-figure lead with a three-pointer to begin the second quarter and made the score, 24-14. Bluffton maintained its sizeable advantage for the majority of the period and grew the margin to as many as 16 points twice, including a 36-20 score at the 2:31 mark. Senior Ashley Williams (Leipsic/Pandora-Gilboa) then hit a triple that sparked a 9-2 scoring run to wrap up the first half and saw the Bluffton lead shrink to, 37-29, at the break.
Bluffton began the third quarter with a jumper to led by 10 points, 39-29, early. Back-to-back scores by Tietje and a jumper from junior Mekai White (Cincinnati/Winton Woods) as part of an 8-2 run, cut the lead to 41-37 with 6:56 left in the third. The Yellow Jackets held their opponents under a double-digit margin for the remainder of the quarter as the teams battled through a back-and-forth final five minutes that saw Bluffton head into the final period with a 55-47 lead.
The Yellow Jackets started the fourth quarter on a 7-0 spurt to get the Bluffton lead to a single point, 55-54. Bluffton responded with an ensuing 10-2 run of its own to jump out to a more comfortable, 65-56, lead with 4:24 to play. Following a three-pointer by Smay to narrow the gap to six points, 65-69, the Beavers would be too strong down the stretch and kept the Yellow Jackets from getting any closer than five pionts the rest of the way. Bluffton put the game away at the free-throw line as it made 12-of-15 attempts in the final three minutes to cement an 81-68 victory.
Defiance returns to action on Saturday, Feb. 11 when it heads to Lexington, Ky. to take on Transylvania (Ky.) University in a HCAC doubleheader with the Yellow Jacket men's team. The women's game is set for a 1 p.m. tip, followed by the men's game at 3 p.m.