DEFIANCE, OHIO – The Defiance College men's basketball team dropped a heartbreaker at the buzzer on Wednesday evening as they fell in Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference action to Earlham at the Karl H. Weaner Center, 68-66.
The Purple and Gold were led in the contest by junior Allante Wheeler (Canton, Mich.) with a team-best 17 points and eight rebounds. Junior Randall Aikins Jr. (Detroit, Mich./Plymouth) added 16 points for DC.
Earlham opened the contest with an 8-0 run before freshman Avion Franklin (Toledo/Whitmer) drained a three-pointer to halt the surge. Freshman Ben Singer (Cambridge City, Ind./Lincoln) continued the DC assault from outside as he connected for back-to-back three-pointers to cut the deficit to 18-9 with 13:50 remaining. The Purple and Gold chipped away at the EC advantage before the Quakers found their range sinking a deep ball with 9:45 to play, 24-13.
Defiance rallied again as freshman Elijah Pennington (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike) sparked a DC run that would pull the Purple and Gold within 28-21 with just under five remaining. The hot streak continued as Wheeler connected from down town followed by a layup from freshman Demoines Whitney (Detroit, Mich./Western) that cut the deficit to 33-29. Earlham claimed the final score of the half to enter the break with a slight 35-29 lead.
In the second half, Defiance used methodical offense to slowly erase the Quaker advantage. Singer would open the half for the Yellow Jackets as he sank another three-pointer at the 18:38 minute mark, 37-32. However, Earlham would push a double digit lead again as a layup with 12:14 to play gave them the 50-40 advantage. The Yellow Jackets continued to swarm as Aikins Jr. stole the momentum and led a DC 7-0 run to pull within 50-47. The deep ball deemed clutch again at the 9:07 mark as Wheeler would cut the difference to 54-52.
The two teams exchanged scores for several minutes before another Aikins Jr. basket with under a minute to go swung the game. Defiance cranked up the intensity on defense getting a stop that led to an Aikin's fast break. The junior connected on a free throw missing the back end of two but a sophomore Jordan Maschino (Bradford/Covington) rebound and put back fell short.
The Yellow Jackets wrap up the regular season on Saturday, February 17 as they travel to Hanover. Tip-off is set for 3:00 p.m.