Brandon Christlieb (#23), CJ Hampton (#3) and Kolby Bullard (#13) celebrate during Manchester’s 83-82 victory over Mt. St. Joseph Saturday.
Brandon Christlieb (#23), CJ Hampton (#3) and Kolby Bullard (#13) celebrate during Manchester’s 83-82 victory over Mt. St. Joseph Saturday.
NORTH MANCHESTER – The short-handed Manchester University men's basketball team displayed an immense amount of grit and toughness in an 83-82 victory over Mt. St. Joseph University inside of Stauffer-Wolfe Arena on Saturday January 8.

Playing only six players, Manchester rallied from a double-digit deficit in the second half against the Lions – earning a third consecutive Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference win in the process.

A basket by the Lions put MSJ ahead by 11, 60-49, at the 14:38 mark of the 2nd half. The Spartans would answer with a 9-2 spurt over the next two minutes to draw to within a possession. MSJ was able to maintain its slim lead over the Spartans for the next 10 minutes of play.

A three-pointer by Ty Lynas (Crawfordsville) brought Manchester even with the Mount at the 2:11 mark of the 2nd half, 80-80. MSJ responded on its next possession with a basket in the paint by Dayne Gardner.

After stops by both sides, Manchester senior CJ Hampton (Hammond) was able to convert a pair of free throws after getting fouled on a drive to the basket with just 38 seconds left in the game.

The Black & Gold's defense stood tall in the game's final moments as a sophomore Brandon Christlieb (Ashley) secured a critical rebound and was then fouled by MSJ's Dayne Gardner with just four seconds remaining in the game. After missing his first foul shot attempt, Christlieb swished home the second to put Manchester in front 83-82.

The Lions' game-winning attempt from the near baseline was long and fell off the back of the rim as time expired.

For the game, Manchester finished shooting 29-60 from the field – good for 48.3 percent. The Spartans also knocked down nine three-pointers in the win. Brandon Christlieb led the collective effort with a game-high 26 points. Christlieb shot 11-17 from the floor. He also grabbed eight rebounds. CJ Hampton scored 15 points and grabbed four boards against the Lions. Ian Snelling (Erlanger, Ky./Dixie Heights) added 11 points and three steals.

The collective play from the trio of Hunter Perlich (Fort Wayne), Ty Lynas, and Kolby Bullard (Noblesville) helped propel the Spartans to their third straight win. Perlich matched his season-high with 12 points. Perlich set career-highs in assists (5) and minutes played (38) against MSJ. Lynas finished with nine points and a season-high nine assists – while only turning over the ball twice. Bullard chipped in 10 big points off the bench. He aslo dished out five assists while knocking in 3-of-his-6 three-point attempts.

Manchester had 22 assists to just 10 turnovers in Saturday's win. The Spartans also finished 16-22 (72.7 percent) from the free throw line.

Mt. St. Joseph shot 33-67 (49.3 percent) from the field. The Lions finished 11-34 shooting (32.4 percent) from three-point territory. David Luers led MSJ with 26 points. Evan Wiehe added 15 points on the strength of five made three-pointers. Dayne Gardner finished with 12 points.

The Spartans (5-8, 4-2 HCAC) have now won three straight games. Manchester is scheduled to return to action on Wednesday January 12 at home against Rose-Hulman. Tip-off from Stauffer-Wolfe Arena is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Mt. St. Joseph (6-7, 2-4 HCAC) is scheduled to host Transylvania University on Wednesday January 12 at 7:30 p.m.