Behind a stingy defense and strong second half scoring from seniors Courtney Prater and Katie Gahimer, Hanover's women defeated Defiance (Ohio) 88-76 Saturday 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 pulls Hanover into 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.

Natalie Morse hit three 3-pointers and found her way to the free-throw line three more times to net 13 points before halftime.

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 3-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.

Alicia Hopkins 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 to tie the game 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 its 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 3-pointers. Comden followed with a lay-up with just 11:11 remaining.

Prater scored 11 points over the next 3:33 to spark a 18-8 Panther run.  

With Hanover trailing 66-67, Erica King hit another 3-pointer and the rally looked to be quieted.

Gahimer slipped through the lane for a smooth left-handed lay-up and freshman Ashley Malloy 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.

Shauna Watson was a perfect 4-of-4 from the free throw line down the stretch and Gahimer sank the final two free throws with 23 seconds remaining to secure the Panther win.

Malloy scored nine points, all the in the second half, while Hopkins was the fourth Hanover player in double digits with 14 point to go with 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.



at Hanover


DEFIANCE (10-7, 7-3 HCAC) - (c)Comden 22, Bingley 14, (g)King 12, Neanen 8, (g)Zachrich 7, (g)Ciminillo 5, Birchmeier 5, (f)Harshman 3, Fix 0, Kath 0.

HANOVER (13-4, 7-3 HCAC) - Prater 23, (f)Gahimer 15, (g)Hopkins 14, (g)Morse 13, Malloy 9, (f)Weddle 6, (g)Watson 4, Tubb 2, Pahren 2, Caudill 0, Brewer 0, Bischoff 0.

Halftime - Hanover 40-38. 3-Point Goals - Defiance 11 (King 3, Comden 2, Neanen 2, Bingley 2, Ciminillo 1, Birchmeier 1), Hanover 4 (Morse 3, Gahimer 1). Rebounds - Defiance 41 (Comden 9), Hanover 27 (Gahimer 4, Watson 4). Assists - Defiance 19 (Ciminillo 4, King 4), Hanover 11 (Gahimer 4). Turnovers - Defiance 33, Hanover 18. Total Fouls - Defiance 28, Hanover 16. Free Throws - Defiance 9-16, Hanover 30-41. Fouled Out - Defiance: Zachrich, Birchmeier. Next Game - Hanover visits Mount St. Joseph Wednesday.