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Comeback Effort Falls Short as Defiance Men Fall to Earlham

Comeback Effort Falls Short as Defiance Men Fall to Earlham

RICHMOND, IND. -- The Defiance College men's basketball team could not overcome a second half surge that the Earlham (Ind.) College Quakers used to knock off the Yellow Jackets, 77-70, in Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference action on Wednesday night.

The Yellow Jackets (5-11, 3-6 HCAC) were led in scoring by freshman Elijah Pennington (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike), who scored 21 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the floor and 8-of-9 from the charity stripe. Pennington added four assists and a a pair of steals. The other player in double figures for the visitors was junior Randall Aikins Jr. (Detroit, Mich./Plymouth), who dropped 15 markers and grabbed seven boards. Freshman Allante Wheeler had eight points and eight assists while Avion Franklin (Toledo/Whitmer) added eight points for the Yellow Jackets.

The Quakers (2-14, 2-7 HCAC) shot red-hot from the floor, shooting 30-of-54 (55.6 percent) overall and 6-of-17 (35.3 percent) from beyond the arc. The Yellow Jackets finished the night shooting 24-of-53 (45.3 percent) overall and 7-of-21 (33.3 percent) from deep. Earlham finished with a 34-30 edge on the glass, while committing six less turnovers than Defiance (14-8).

Defiance used a 6-0 start to the contest that included a pair of buckets from freshman Kiewuan Graham (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) and carried that lead through the first 10 minutes of the opening stanza. An Aikins jumper at the 9:10 mark put the DC lead at 28-24 before the home team seized momentum by scoring the next seven points to give them a 31-28 lead. Pennington responded with a triple to tie the game at 31 with five minutes left in the half. The Quakers scored three more to take the lead, but senior Jonathan Ragland (Wilmette, Ill./Loyola Academy) to tie the game once again. Earlham, however, scored the final four points of the first half to take a 38-34 lead into the locker room.

Earlham's lead grew as high as seven points early in the second half, but Defiance battled back to cut the deficit to a single point (49-48) on a deuce from Ragland at the 14:32 mark. The Quakers took the first double-digit lead of the contest after a 14-3 scoring spurt gave them a 63-53 lead with 8:10 to play in the contest. A free throw from Aikins and five straight points from Pennington cut the lead to four points, 63-59, with 6:14 left to put DC right back in the mix. The Quakers got the lead back to six, 70-64, when Pennington knocked down four straight from the charity stripe to make it a two-point contest with 3:12 on the clock. Earlham grew the lead to five before a pair of freebies by Aikins made the score, 73-70, but Earlham scored the final four points of the contest to escape with a 77-70 victory.

The Quakers finished with four scorers in double figures, led by Darrell Hutchison Jr., who scored 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting. Kenneth Stalling Jr. and Thomas Sanborn added 11 points, while Jamel Barnes chipped in with 10.

Defiance will return to action on Saturday, Jan. 17 with a matchup against the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology Fightin' Engineers. The women's game is set for a 1 p.m. start with the men's game set to follow at around 3 p.m.