Behind a stingy defense and strong second half scoring from seniors Courtney Prater (Anderson, Ind.) and Katie Gahimer (Greensburg, Ind.), the Hanover College women’s basketball team defeated Defiance College (Ohio), 88-76. The Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tilt was held Saturday, Jan. 19 in Collier Arena.
Prater scored a game-high 23 points off the bench, including 17 in the second half, as the Panthers collected their third straight HCAC win.
The victory creates a tie with Defiance for third place in the league.
Gahimer shot 50 percent from the field and scored 11 second-half points. The senior forward dished four first-half assists, tying game-high honors, and scored 15 points.
The two teams spent most of the first half trading baskets, with neither team able to pull away.
Senior guard Natalie Morse (Mitchell, Ind.) hit three three-pointers and found her way to the free throw line on three separate occasions, netting 13 points before intermission.
Morse was upstaged by Defiance center Kim Comden, who hit 8-of-12 shots to score 18 first-half points. Comden totaled 22 points and nine rebounds to lead the Yellow Jackets.
Defiance pulled to a 38-34 lead off a Maggie Neanen three-pointer with 2:50 remaining in the first period, before a Morse free throw pulled the Panthers within three points (38-35) with 56 seconds remaining in the half.
Sophomore guard Alicia Hopkins (Columbus, Ind.) then stole ball, drove the length of the court and was fouled in the act of scoring to cut into the Defiance lead. Hopkins sank her free throw and tied the game at 38-38.
The Yellow Jackets refused to buckle and Neanen responded with a bucket at the buzzer to secure a 40-38 lead at the half.
Hanover increased their defensive intensity in the second half, grabbing eight steals and forcing 17 turnovers.
Prater found her way to the lane early, hitting two free throws at the 17:25 mark to pull the Panthers within six (47-41).
Defiance built the lead to 11 (60-49) as Erica King and Kim Bingley hit two quick three-pointers. Comden followed with a lay-up with just 11:11 remaining.
Prater scored 11 points in the next 3:33 to spark a 18-8 Panther run.
With Hanover trailing 66-67, Erica King hit another three-pointer and the rally looked to be quieted.
Gahimer slipped through the lane for a smooth left-handed lay-up and freshman guard Ashley Malloy (Salem, Ind.) hit the back end of a double-bonus to give the Panthers life at 70-69.
Malloy stole the ball on the following play and sent an outlet pass to Hopkins, who quickly drove the length of the court to put Hanover ahead 71-70 with 5:49 to play.
The Yellow Jackets battled back over the next several minutes, never allowing the Panthers to build a substantial lead, but consecutive buckets by Malloy and Gahimer with less than two minutes left forced Defiance to foul.
Sophomore Shauna Watson (Fort Wayne, Ind) was a perfect 4-of-4 from the charity stripe down the stretch and Gahimer sank the final two free throws with 23 seconds remaining to secure the Panther win.
Hanover shot 55.6 percent (15-of-27) in the second half, while limiting the Yellow Jackets to 37.1 percent (13-of-35). For the game, Hanover shot 27-of-55 (49.1%) from the field and 73.2 percent (30-of-41) from the line.
Defiance, now 10-7; 7-3 HCAC, shot 43.1 percent (28-of-65) for the game, including 44.0 percent (11-of-25) from three-point range.
Malloy scored nine points, all the in the second half, while Hopkins was the fourth Hanover player in double digits with 14. Hopkins also had a game-high five steals.
Kim Bingley scored 14 points off the bench for the Yellow Jackets. Erica King hit three treys to also reach double digits (12) for Defiance.
Published Saturday, January 19, 2013