Spartans battle league tri-second place opponent to wire

NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – A feisty effort from the home Manchester University Spartans kept a crowd of better than 100 fans on the edge of its seats Wednesday, Jan. 17.

Coach Josh Dzurick’s squad battled visiting Bluffton University tooth and nail over the 40 minutes with the Beavers escaping Stauffer-Wolfe Arena with a 62-59 decision. Despite their opponents scoring 15 of the first 21 points, MU stayed the course and chipped away late in the first stanza and into the second eventually taking a 20-17 lead of its own to wind up a 14-2 run. BU answered right back and managed to advance the lead out to as much as nine in the second half, but the Black and Gold weren’t done, closing to within three and having a final possession to tie that was off the mark.

The underclasswoman duo of freshman forward/center Hannah Smith (Upland, Ind.) and sophomore guard Nicole Weaver (Fort Wayne, Ind.) paced the Spartans (4-12 overall, 3-6 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference). Smith tallied 18 points, grabbed eight rebounds and picked up two steals, while Weaver scored 18, too, and dished off a team-leading three assists.

Manchester University managed to stay within the loop’s top six even with the defeat. They start off the second half of the 2017-18 league schedule Saturday, Jan. 20, at Earlham College’s Schuckman Court at Druley Performance Gymnasium. Tip-off time is 2 p.m.

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