Johnson milestone highlights HCAC opener

NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – Manchester University junior guard Adrian Johnson (Indianapolis, Ind.) stepped up and did something he’s done countless times in his career with 13:42 left in the first half Monday, Nov. 27.

However, with the effortless swish of another made free throw for the Spartans’ standout, history was made this time around. Johnson became the 29th member of the program’s illustrious 1,000-point club. Joining the likes of all-time leading scorer Dick Harris; national championship game participants Burt Paddock, Kyle Hupfer and Chad Berry; and many other notable names from the annals of MU hoops, he indelibly etched his name into the record book, tying the game at 10-10 and then going over the four-digit mark for his career with a second made charity toss to give the home side an 11-10 lead early on.

The junior didn’t stop there, either. Johnson reeled off his 11th consecutive double-digit scoring effort, climbing into No. 28 on the all-time scoring list (1,025 points), behind a 28-point, four-assist, four-rebound contest for Coach Gerad Good’s squad. He had company in the double figures section of the Stauffer-Wolfe Arena scoreboard, too, as senior forward/center Enis Becirevic (Fort Wayne, Ind.) totaled 21 points to go with nine boards, and junior guard Justin Lukens (Herrin, Ill.) added 10 to go with three assists and three rebounds.

Despite the historical footnote of the evening in front of a post-Thanksgiving break crowd of nearly 300, it wasn’t enough to overcome a hot shooting Defiance College club on the Stan Weller Court honoring Coaches Hoffman and Wolfe. The Yellow Jackets, in the 2017-18 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference opener for both sides, hit just under 54 percent from the field and held a pivotal eight-rebound edge on the glass (38-30) to forge a hard-fought 79-75 victory.

Good’s squad started fast, leading by six in the opening stages, but DC answered with a late first-half push for a 42-37 halftime edge. The Yellow Jackets built that as much as eight early in the second stanza, but it was MU’s turn for a comeback that lifted them to a 57-53 lead as the clock ticked down. However, Defiance had the final move, going on a critical 11-0 run in the latter stages for a 64-57 advantage they wouldn’t give up.

The Spartans, falling to 1-4 overall and 0-1 in the conference, look to shake off a three-game skid Saturday, Dec. 2, when they travel to Mt. St. Joseph University. Tip-off time against the Lions at the Harrington Center is 5 p.m.

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