The Yellow Jackets are finding ways to win in the early part of the season.
A night after knocking down 19 treys in a semifinal victory over Spaulding, the Defiance College men’s basketball team needed to rally from a dozen down at the half to capture the 45th annual Purple & Gold Tournament with a 76-70 decision over Great Lakes Christian.
“It’s really big for our program to win our own tournament,” said Defiance College coach Scott Cutter. “It’s the first time we’ve won the tournament since I’ve been the head coach here.
“To do it in that fashion, to be down 12 at halftime, is what we tell our kids,” added Cutter. “They have to be able to handle some ups and downs. We were down 12 at the half and needed to find a way to try to stick with it.”
Defiance came out and scored the first eight points of the second half, thanks to Micaiah Cox. The Fort Recovery product – and all-tournament team selection – opened with the first five points.
Ottawa-Glandorf grad and DC freshman Owen Hiegel hit a pair of triples around a basket by the Crusaders to keep the rally going for the Yellow Jackets.
“At halftime, our guys went in and they sort of expected to come back,” admitted Cutter. “I will say I think Great Lakes Christian is pretty good. Olivet, they had them down 20. At least we were only down 12 at the half.”
Defiance momentarily took the lead when Jack Kolar hit a triple and Tyler Andrew split a pair of free throws. However, things were not that easy for Defiance the rest of the night.
Back-to-back treys by Great Lakes Christian forced a 51-all tie with 9:38 still left to play.
The teams traded a couple of scores before Great Lakes Christian went back in front. They led by five with 6:13 left after a nice move inside by Marcus Riley. Defiance had an answer with a 6-0 run, with four of the points coming from the free throw line.
“You saw us fighting, fighting, fighting, and that’s a part of building a winning team,” said Cutter. “We continue to improve in that area.”
The lead changed hands one more time until a triple from tournament MVP Sean Tyson sent the Yellow Jackets in front for good. His triple with 1:07 to go had Defiance in front 67-65.
Tyson followed the bucket by drawing a charge on the other end of the floor.
“At some point, you have to fall back on your defense to keep you in the game,” said Cutter.
After Great Lakes Christian got close, Defiance closed the game out by going 5 of 6 from the free throw line.
Great Lakes Christian went on two runs in the first half. A 17-2 run, that saw Isiah Reed close with a pair of triples, had the Crusaders ahead 19-7 with just under 13 minutes left in the half. After the Yellow Jackets pulled within one, Great Lakes dropped three shots from the outside to go on an 11-0 run to end the half. Reed hit five treys and had 16 points at the break.
The Yellow Jackets have already matched their win total from a year ago.
“It’s super important from a confidence standpoint,” said Cutter. “We’re figuring out how to win a game one game at a time. I think we’re making progress.”
Olivet won the consolation game over Spaulding, 95-75.
Defiance (3-0) is off until next weekend’s Thomas More Jim Connor Classic on Friday and Saturday.
GREAT LAKES (70) — Jones 16; Eggleston 11; Temple 6; Reed 23; Green 2; Cole 0; Anderson 0; Riley 6; Wright 0; Garrett 6. Totals 25-61 11-15 70.
DEFIANCE (76) — Hiegel 10; Tyson 19; Kolar 12; Andrew 10; Cox 9; Jones 0; Jordan 16; Glock 0. Totals 23-52 21-27 76.
Three-point goals: Great Lakes 9-33 (Jones, Eggleston, Reed 6, Riley). Defiance 9-24 (Hiegel 2, Tyson, Kolar 3, Andrew, Jordan 2). Rebounds: Great Lakes 34 (Reed 7), Defiance 35 (Tyson 7). Turnovers: Great Lakes 21, Defiance 20.
Great Lakes 36 34 — 70
Defiance 24 52 — 76