NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – The nerves were there. This time though, they were different.
Putting an end to a winless beginning to the 2016-17 season, Manchester University's young but gritty cast got the bounces and baskets to go their way down the stretch Saturday, Dec. 10, upending Mt. St. Joseph 57-48 in Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference play.
A crowd of better than 250 was ecstatic with the results. Trailing 25-24 at the break, Coach Josh Dzurick's squad (1-7 overall, 1-2 HCAC) continued on a 6-0 run to begin the second half that few would have remembered when sophomore guard Faith-Alexis Graham (Indianapolis, Ind.) tallied a lay-up early for a 26-25 lead, the team's first since midway through the first quarter. From there, the confidence of a young team continued to grow, as the Black and Gold built as large as an eight-point advantage and weathered a visiting side comeback to pick up the victory.
"There were still nerves (for our team) down the stretch," Dzurick noted. "However, those type of things are different when you have a lead compared to seeing a three-point deficit turn into a nine or 10-point deficit. We were able to stop their run and get some big baskets and calm down a little."
"(Our team) needed this," he added about the win. "Hopefully, it'll help (our team) relax and we can build off of it. We'll just keeping working hard moving forward."
Freshman guard/forward Hannah Newby (Danville, Ind.) came off the bench to score a team-high 12 points to go with two assists, also a team-leading mark, and a steal. Senior guard Jenifer Lee (Rockville, Ind.) added 11 points, canning three key three-point buckets, to go with eight points and four steals, and junior forward/center Samantha Bolen (Greenwood, Ind.) ended with 10 points, five rebounds and two steals.
The Spartans jumped into a tie for seventh on the league standings with Defiance College, just a half-game behind Transylvania University for sixth. Manchester University plays its final pre-Christmas loop contest Saturday, Dec. 17, going to Earlham College for a 2 p.m. tipoff.
NOTES: Newby saw her points per game average continue to soar, up almost two and a half points (4-6.3) over the last three outings where she's tallying 10 per game … Lee's three treys tied a personal single-game high … Bolen continued to be a model of consistency for MU, compiling double-digit points for the sixth time and five-or-more rebounds for the fourth time … The Black and Gold's win was their 19th in the last 22 against MSJ.